Christmas Recipes

Christmas Recipes
Christmas Recipes

Italian Recipes

Italian Recipes
Italian Recipes

Dessert Recipes

Dessert Recipes
Dessert Recipes

Broiled White Free-Form Loaf

“This was a mistake that proved to be extremely interesting.” James Beard, Beard on Bread.
I'm all about baking and learning from my mistakes. I've even posted about some mistakes and I tend to find mistakes in my baking to be a fun challenge. This Broiled White Free-Form Loaf happened as a mistake for James Beard and I thought I would give it a try!

Sometimes those bread baking mistakes are not that much fun! It occasionally happens to me when I'm baking homemade bread. A fumble here, a slight veer in the wrong direction there. In the end, there bread results turn out not so disastrous as I imagined they would.  I may be frustrated because the process wasn't as easy as I had hoped it would be, but I keep going with hopes of sharing my results and maybe even inspiring a baker or two to even try the recipe and to not be afraid of yeast. People...yeast is not that scary. I promise. It isn't.

And this bread is not scary. At all! Have you ever set the oven to broil instead of bake? Honestly? Come on...tell me the truth! I will be totally honest and reveal that I have. But my results were not as glorious as James Beard's Broiled White Free Form Loaf. Thanks to his mistake, you could make this same bread. 

Here is how James Beard arrived with this recipe: “I was testing another version of the free-form loaf, turned the oven to 375° without my glasses on, and placed the loaf in the oven.  I thought it was browning magnificently and then discovered I had turned the oven to “broil”.  I immediately switched it to “bake”, but by this time I had a beautifully brown, crisp top crust and the loaf had risen.  In the end the loaf tasted absolutely wonderful, and the upper crust was superb.”

That description is what propelled me to make this bread ASAP! Maybe you'll attempt it this weekend or even for the holidays. Maybe you'll bake your first yeast bread and no longer be afraid of yeast. Or maybe this is your 100th loaf and it's a different way than you usually bake your bread. The point is, baking bread is therapeutic. And with all that is happening in the world and in our personal lives, spending a 1/2 day dedicated to the production of a gorgeous loaf of bread is maybe what we all could use. 

If you're new to baking and want to make your own white bread, this is a great recipe to start off with!

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.
2. Add the flour, salt, oil.
3. Mix together with dough hook, or by hand.
4. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes.
5. Place the dough in a buttered bowl and let rise.
6. Punch dough down.
7. Place on prepped baking sheet, cover and let rise until doubled in size.
8. Broil at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, then switch to “bake” for 25 minutes until golden brown, or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped with the knuckles.

What exactly is proofing yeast? It's when you dissolve the yeast in warm water to make sure it is active and that it will work to make your bread rise.

1. Let the yeast and water sit for a few minutes.
2. The water will dissolve the dry coating around the granules of the yeast, releasing the active yeast inside.
3. It takes about 10 minutes to really have the yeast bloom.
4. Some recipes ask for a pinch of a sugar to be added to the yeast and water. James Beard doesn't mention using sugar in this bread recipe.

So back to this recipe. I had to try it Jim Beard's baking mishap that he described as "absolutely wonderful". This book is from 1973. I think that Jim Beard's broiled and baked loaf is practically the same crust and crumb as this no-knead bread I shared (and LOVE).

A perfect loaf of white bread. A simple loaf, and it doesn't require a mixer to put it together. You can shape it free-form into a mound and place on your baking sheet.  So here it is, a basic loaf from a quintessential food lover. I should've waited a bit longer to slice my loaf. Impossible. Absolutely impossible to wait! You know the story: everyone was lined up awaiting their slice and then they ended up cutting chunks of it. Cheese and olives were paired with this fabulous bread.

"Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts." I couldn't agree more with James Beard.

*updated post from  Jan 2014

The #TwelveLoaves bakers have decided to ring in 2014 with a new loaf that is simple: Keep it Simple is our theme. Simple meaning laid-back in technique or even simple in the ingredients. I was checking out my Beard on Bread book from James Beard and kept going back to his Broiled White Free-Form Loaf.

#TwelveLoaves January – Keep it Simple! We enjoyed a delicious month of December with our Holiday Breads. January #TwelveLoaves is here and we are going to Keep it Simple! Choose a recipe that is not overly complicated, whether in technique or ingredients. Share your January Keep it Simple Bread (yeast or quick bread). Let’s get baking!

Have a look at what the other talented bread bakers have made:

#TwelveLoaves was a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Savoring Italy.

I should've waited a bit longer to slice my loaf. Impossible. Absolutely impossible to wait! You know the story: everyone was lined up awaiting their slice and then they ended up cutting chunks of it. Cheese and olives were paired with this fabulous bread.

What struck me as sort of funny is that a few weeks ago I was baking a banana bread and accidentally turned the oven to roast. I couldn't figure out why the bread smelled, well, like it was roasting. It had a cinnamon streusel topping and let me tell you, roasted cinnamon streusel topping lingers in the house for hours! Luckily, I rescued the bread in the nick of time and so yes, the top was roasted. But, hey! It was not too bad with coffee!

I am sharing this bread with Yeastspotting

This is the book where I got the recipe: Beard on Bread. It has 100 super recipes. For a novice baker, this could be the only book you'll need to begin with!

Broiled White Free-Form Loaf

A buttermilk yeast based bread that is broiled and baked. This is the only white bread recipe you will ever need! Soft crumb and crunchy crust that is perfect to bake for the holidays or on a relaxing weekend!
prep time: 1 hour and 30 minscook time: 45 minstotal time: 1 hours and 75 mins


2 packages active dry yeast
¾ cup warm water (100 to 115 degrees, approximately)
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. coarse salt
3 Tbsp. olive, vegetable, or peanut oil
½ cup buttermilk
1 egg white, beaten with 1 tablespoon water


Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let it proof. Measure the flour into a mixing bowl, add the salt, and blend well. Add the oil, and then, gradually, the buttermilk. Mix with the hands or in an electric mixer with a dough hook until the dough comes off the bowl. 

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and resilient. Remove to a buttered bowl and turn to coat the surface with butter. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk.

Punch the dough down, knead for 3 minutes, and let rise once more. Punch down again, then, using both hands, gather the dough into a big circular package, draw the top together to close it, and pinch the ends together. 

Turn the dough over, and set it, pinched-end side down, on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal, and let rise until doubled in bulk. (Cornmeal may be sprinkled on the top, too, for an extra accent.) 

Slash the top in three places and brush with the egg wash.

Broil at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, then switch to “bake” for 25 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped with the knuckles. (If your broiler has no setting, place the bread as far as possible from the unit and watch carefully. You may have to switch from “broil” to “bake” more quickly.) 

Remove the loaf from the baking sheet and let it rest directly on the oven rack for a few minutes to brown the bottom. 

Cool on a rack.
Created using The Recipes Generator


  1. […] Broiled White Free-Form Loaf by Lora at Cake Duchess […]

  2. I would not be able to wait to slice into this loaf, either. This is a bread I'd love to try!!! Happy New Year, Lora! xo

  3. Nothing like a happy accident. I can imagine your family lining up to get at this bread. It reminds me of the first bread I ever baked and my husband got home from work right after I pulled it out of the oven. He sliced it up and ate half a loaf right then and there. Sometimes it's great not to wait.

  4. Lora,
    love this bread. . loved baking with you all last year .. overcame my fear of yeast and surprised myself with all the different kinds of breads I've baked! I'm with you on learning from your mistakes when baking. . and this bread looks fabulous!!!! just perfect! Happy New Year Lora!!!

  5. I've never heard of broiled bread before but I'm all about trying new methods when it comes to making lovely, yeasty breads. To me there is nothing better than home baked bread and thankfully I consider yeast my friend. That said, I've had my share of mishaps too, but that's part of the fun! I'm going to try your recipe. It looks delicious!!! Happy New Year, Lora! Thanks for allowing me to bake along with the Twelve Loaves group. I'm having such fun!

  6. Happy New Year Lora.
    It's great to be part of Twelve Loaves in the simplicity of January bread or the more creative challenges of other months. I appreciate even more your ability to overcome mistakes and learn from them. Thanks to remind us that important part of baking and life.

  7. That is one gorgeous loaf, Lora! Whenever I bake bread, I have them lining up for the first pieces too, and everyone fights over the ends. Such a difference from store-bought bread where I can't give the ends away and end up throwing them to the birds! Thank you for inviting me to participate in Twelve Loaves. I am looking forward to baking bread more often!

  8. Gorgeous loaf, Lora! Sometimes mistakes are the best! :)

  9. Don't you just love dipping back into older cookbooks? Bernard Clayton's book is like that too. I love your loaf, it is so pretty. One time my oven decided to break mid bake and would only cook on "convection roast" at 475 degrees F. The bread turned out amazing. Who knew?

  10. Beautiful loaf, Lora! Loved reading this post. My favorite bread baking books are indeed older cookbooks, too. I'm with Karen, above. I adore my Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads (as it was my first cookbook dedicated to breads) and so many more. Thank you for sharing. And...Happy New Year and Happy Baking to you, too!

  11. How fabulous Lora! You call this simple, I call it artisan! I've joined your wonderful group to push myself because I'm not always at ease when baking bread. And I'd be a nervous wreck with the broiling step.....what what an unbelievable result! I don't blame everyone for digging in before it cooled! I absolutely want to give this one a try! Thanks for all of your inspiration and all that you do for this group! I wish you much health and happiness in the new year! : )

  12. I am so glad to be baking with you this year, and hopefully 2014 is the year that I overcome my fear of yeast. I just know I am going to learn so much from everyone in the #TwelveLoaves group. Fortunately my library has a copy of this book so I have requested it, but in the meantime I am going to try your recipe. Wishing you all the best for 2014.

  13. […] Broiled White Free-Form Loaf by Lora at Cake Duchess […]

  14. How exciting! I have never broiled bread (successfully or on purpose) before. This loaf turned out very beautiful. I *love* seeing what bread you will be making every month.

    Mistakes can turn out pretty neat, but not at the time. At least for me, I'm never thrilled about my mistakes right away. I hope you have a great start to the new year!

  15. Love that how James Beard's accidental setting on his oven turned into this beautiful loaf of bread. I adore the simplicity and will definitely be giving this a try. Lovely!

  16. What a beautiful bread and even better that you shared it with your family. I just love that image of family members lined up and ready to dig in! I don't think I've baked bread with the ratio of yeast to flour quite so high, looking forward to seeing how that works at my altitude. All the best in bread baking and in life for you in the New Year!

  17. Broiled bread that's least for me and I'm going to try this for sure :) The crust looks absolutely amazing by the way.

  18. In spite of the hundreds of breads I've baked, I never even read about a recipe such as this one. Must try it asap Lora! Such a unique technique. Love it! So bummed I couldn't make it in time to post.

  19. What a stunningly gorgeous and perfect loaf, from the crust to the crumb! I would love to make it but can you tell me how much each of the packets of dried yeast weigh? 7 or 8 grams each? Thank you!!

    Baking fresh homemade bread is such a great New Year's resolution!

  20. […] Broiled White Free-Form Loaf by Lora at Cake Duchess […]

  21. I love baking bread, it´s so therapuetic!! I´m keen to learn as much as I can this year about different methods of making breads :-) Thanks for sharing and all the best for 2014!! Xx

  22. Lol, I can NEVER wait for bread to cool before ripping into it! That's the best part! Your loaf of bread looks exquisite, Lora. Perfectly formed and wonderfully rustic. I love the theme this month - after all the craziness of the holidays, January is always a time for going back to the basics, simplifying things and eating as cleanly as possible. Here's to another fabulous year of #TwelveLoaves posts!

  23. those bread slices look PERFECT! I need to go make some bread, it has been far too long, and I *do* need to see how this new oven works with bread... ;)

    Happy New Year, my friend!

  24. […] Broiled White Free-Form Loaf by Lora at Cake Duchess […]