Make your own bakery-worthy bread in your dorm!

This recipe comes from my dear friend, who makes bread up to 5 or 6 times a week in his dorm kitchen. He got the recipe from a classic ciabatta recipe and scaled it 50%. Some of these instructions are unorthodox, but my friend claims that bread recipes should never be treated as rigid constitutions. “To be a good baker, you should learn to understand your dough with your senses: you can see when it’s too dry or wet, you can feel when the dough has proofed long enough, you can stretch the dough to see if it has enough strength or elasticity, and so forth.”

Here is what he’s come up with:


  1. 2 cups of flour

“All purpose flour is a good choice if you don’t know what grains you prefer. I just baked a loaf with 50% all purpose flour and 50% whole wheat—it has a nice balance of flavor. 100% all purpose flour can be a little boring (still delicious) and 100% whole wheat is an acquired taste. You can always make your dough with any ratio of different flours, just remember how the dough should feel.”

  1. Around 200mL of room temperature/lukewarm water, or a little less than a cup of water

“Whichever amount you pick, make sure to adjust on a case by case basis. The dough should at first be pretty loose and sticky; not goopy, but wet and sticky; nor should it be too dry. The aim is for a hydration level which is conducive for high gluten development yet dry enough to work with by hand. If your dough is too dry, try adding water a tablespoon at a time.”

  1. 1 teaspoon of instant dry yeast.

“You can use more or less dry yeast depending on how fast you want your dough to rise and proof. If you don’t have all day and want to bake as soon as possible, you can throw in 2 teaspoons.”

  1. 1 teaspoon of salt


  1. 1 teaspoon of sugar/honey

“Honey will taste better. Honey is a little stronger than table sugar.”

Movements (all in his own words)

  1. Mix the water and yeast and sugar in a bowl.
  2. Add and mix half the flour until well integrated.
  3. Stir in the remaining flour and teaspoon of salt until combined. (At this point, there should be no dry flour left in the bowl and you have a reasonably wet and sticky dough. It will not yet be elastic.)
  4. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let it sit on your counter until your dough is doubled in size. 
  5. Once doubled, with slightly wetted hands, unstick the dough from the sides of the container.
  6. Pull on the dough from the bottom of the now-formed ball and stretch it thin enough to where you can feel like the dough wants to rip. 
  7. Then take the flap of stretched dough and lay it toward the opposite side of the dough ball. 
  8. Rotate your bowl and repeat this process on all sides of the dough, once or twice. I sometimes do this until the dough no longer wants to give (gets tight). 

(P.S. The reason we stretch and fold is because we don’t have to knead—time and water develops gluten. What kneading and stretch n’ fold does is align the gluten and build strength and tightness in the dough, so when you throw it in the oven it doesn’t fall apart everywhere.)

  1. Now the final stretch before the final proof. You’re going to flour a counter and dump your dough on top of it. Then you’re going to fold the dough atop itself as you did in steps 5-10, except this time by grabbing the dough as you would someone’s hips (slightly off the center of the dough ball, because after doing this you will do it again from the other side) lifting, then putting the hanging dough underneath the dough you are holding, much like folding a blanket. Be careful not to squeeze all the air bubbles out—be gentle.
  2. Repeat this on the opposite side of the dough; then, rotate the dough or yourself 90 degrees and do it again.
  3. Then you will roll the dough up; pull on one side of the dough as you did during the stretch & fold and then lay it on the rest of the dough toward yourself. Perform a motion similar to rolling up a thick sleeping bag, using your thumbs to push in the bottom of the roll of flour in order to get a tight roll. Seal the edge of the fold and the sides as well if you desire a tight end. 
  4. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit along with your baking pan or dutch oven. If using a baking pan and not a dutch oven (or a stainless steel pot with a a lid if you have one—use your ingenuity), heat also an oven-safe pan/pot that can handle extreme temperature changes (i.e. not glass).
  5. Put your dough into a container with an agreeable bread loaf shape. For me, I use a circular pyrex. If you have a banneton, use that. Let proof until the dough does not quickly spring back when poked. 
  6. Boil some water shortly before your oven has preheated for a reasonable amount of time, say 20 minutes. Humidity helps your loaf rise in the oven (oven spring). 
  7. Put your loaf on your baking pan or in your dutch oven, add the boiling water to the preheated pot if you aren’t using a dutch oven.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes with the pot of water, then remove the water source.
  9. Bake until you get your desired crust. I like about 10-15 additional minutes.
  10. Remove and let cool to edible temperature. Probably to room temperature, but who cares. 
  11. Make sure to share this bread with other people.

Image of bread from my friend. (It’s a half-whole wheat, half-all purpose ciabatta.)