Flower pot bread - UPDATED answers in comments

14 October 2008

If you're not already baking your own bread, I want you to think about doing it. Not only is it preservatives-free, it's cheaper, tastes better and it a great skill to have. Bread is one of our staple foods and in days gone past everyone, and I mean everyone, knew how to make it. Bread baking is just one of the skills we've traded for the sake of convenience - we give them our money and our independence, they give us back a loaf of bread (usually inferior to what we'd make) and the convenience of not having the bake the bread ourselves.

I know that many of you don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen baking bread. If you are one of those people, I encourage you to buy, barter, or swap your way to a breadmaker. It doesn't have to be new or fancy, it just has to knead the dough for you. Then you shape the loaf and bake it in the regular oven. Making bread this way will take you about 10 minutes in the various stages of putting the ingredients in the machine, shaping the loaf and taking it from the oven. Baking bread using a breadmaker does NOT make you an inferior cook. If using a breadmaker allows you to make your own bread, then go for it. Don't think you HAVE to make the dough by hand, it doesn't matter! The object of the exercise is to produce bread and if using a bread maker is how you do it, so be it.

I did a tutorial for hand making bread
so you can try that if you want to. I added gluten flour to that recipe because it is a beginner's loaf and the gluten flour helps with the rise. You can leave it out if you can't find gluten or if you feel you'll knead the dough well enough without it.

In the posts here and here I'm talking about the cost of bread. If you can find a supplier of good high protein flour - or bakers flour - you will be able to produce loaf after loaf at a fraction of the price of store bought bread. BTW, the protein in bread flour is gluten so if you can't find high protein flour or bakers flours, use your plain all purpose flour and add gluten to it - ratio is one cup of flour to one teaspoon of gluten.

There are two more posts about bread making here and here.

There are thousands of recipes for bread and this is the one I used to make my flower pot loaves last weekend.


First take two teaspoons of dry yeast and a tablespoon of sugar or honey, add to a cup of warm water and stir. Let that sit on the bench to prove (bubble up) while you prepare your other ingredients.

In this order, or the order described in your breadmaker manual, place in your breadmaker:

3 cups bread flour/bakers flour/high protein flour or plain flour with 3 teaspoons of gluten flour added to it. I used soy and linseed flour, you can use white, wholemeal, wholegrain or whatever flour you have.
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of milk powder -- if you have no milk powder leave it out

If you have no milk powder, add some milk as part of your liquid component. You've already got a cup of water that the yeast is proving in, when the yeast has bubbled up (therefore you know it's alive and will activate the bread properly) pour the cup of yeast water in the breadmaker on top of the flour. If you didn't add milk powder, add half a cup of milk. If you did add milk powder, add another half cup of water.

Now, here is where you have to use your common sense. Turn on your machine on the "dough" setting and let it mix all the ingredients for a few minutes. Stay at the machine and watch it. You probably need to add more liquid. I can't tell you how much to add because all flour is different and even the humidity in your home will effect the amount of water you'll need to add at this point. If the dough is too dry, start adding water from a cup in very small amounts. Let the machine mix it in well before you judge whether you need more. One of the skills of breadmaking is judging the right amount of water and I always poke my finger in to check it. You're hoping for a moist dough that has mixed in all the ingredients - you don't want dry dough and you don't want sloppy dough. When you're happy that you've got it right, let the machine do it's work. I'll just say that the amount of liquid you'll add will be between 1½ cups and 2 cups. How much of that extra ½ cup you add you'll have to decide.

When the machine is finished, take the dough out, sprinkle a small amount (one tablespoon) of flour on your bench and knead the dough into a smooth ball. You'll notice at this stage, the dough is elastic - if you pull a piece out, it's springy. Shape the loaf, put it in a greased or lined bread tin and let it sit in a warm place until the bread has risen. This will take about 30 minutes in a warm kitchen but up to an hour in a cool one. You could also put your tin on top of a hot water system, or in the sun with a moist tea towel on the top to help it rise. I used three flower pots and divided the dough equally into three portions and added them to the pots.

When the dough is doubled in size and has risen just above the top of the bread tin, place it in a hot oven. Preheat your oven to its highest temperature, then when you put the bread in, lower the temp to 200C (395F). Bake until you smell the delicious smell of bread and the top is golden. It will take between 20 - 30 minutes.

And that's it. Even though there are a lot of instructions above, they have been written for those of us who have little experience. Anyone who has baked before will just need the recipe and will go on with it. As I said, it will only take about 10 minutes in various stages.

The little flower pot loaves were baked in real plant pots, but they need to be seasoned. DON"T BUY CHINESE POTS and don't use old pots that have had plants in them. I think mine were 5 inch pots. Clean them thoroughly with soap and warm water, rinse well and allow to dry for at least 12 hours. Rub cooking oil into the pots and make sure you cover ever part of every pot. The oil will soak into the terracotta. Make sure you apply a good amount of oil. Put the pots into a COLD oven and turn the heat up to 180C (350F). Let the pots cook in the oven for 20 minutes, then turn the heat off. Leave them in the oven, with the door closed, overnight to cool completely. Next day, repeat that process again. When they come out of the oven the second time, they're ready to be used for baking.

You can bake anything in these pots. I have used them in the past for baking little Christmas cakes that I gave as Christmas gifts - still in the pot - and tied with a red ribbon. They were a real hit. But on the weekend I baked bread in them. I lined them with parchment paper, both on the bottom and sides, to make sure the bread didn't stick.

If you're not a baker, or if you're young and new to home cooking, I hope you'll try making bread. It will save you money and it's better for you because there is no preservative in home baked bread. But best of all, it tastes like bread should taste and you'll be gaining back your independence because you'll be able to provide for yourself.

I wonder how many of you are having problems with bread making. Are there many? Read through my tutorial and try the recipe above and see how you go with it. If there are a few still having problems making a decent loaf, I'll do a troubleshooting post in the next week or so and well see if we can work out the problems together.

Happy baking!


  1. I so want to do this, but we get bread every Tuesday from a bread shop for free. We get all of the bread and cakes/buns that don't sell. I take the buns into work for recess (teachers get very hungry!) and I share the bread with my neighbour, who also has 4 teenagers.

    I've saved the recipe.

  2. What a unique idea, Rhonda! I never would have thought to use flower pots for baking...

    Another Yule gift idea added to the list. :)

  3. Wow, your dough doubles in half an hour on a warm day? We don't get man of those- my dough takes about two hours!

    I love the flowerpot idea. Why can we not use pots made in China?

  4. I just bought a bread machine a Good Will for $5.99. Thank you for letting me know "this is okay". I'm a busy mom so I though a machine would work better for me. My bread turned out rather dense (whole wheat) - any recipes for more like a sandwich bread?

  5. I have a bread machine and I use it several times a week. The bread is delicious, but it never lasts because we eat it almost immediately! I've experimented and had a lot of fun trying new recipes. I made carrot bread Saturday, which turned out wonderful. One of these days I might actually try to make bread from scratch and not using the machine.

  6. You've inspired me to drag out my breadmachine. Due to arthritis in my hands, it hurts to knead dough, but the breadmaker does a good job of it.

    I'm intrigued by the flower pot breads, and I think it would make such cute little cakes or breads to give at Christmas, as you said. I'm wondering, though, how can I tell when I buy them if they're Chinese or not? :-o

  7. i wonder woman, the health and safety standards in China are different to ours here. We have had problems here in Australia with food from China being contaminated with eColi and there was the recent melamine milk scare. http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1841757,00.html

    We are using these pots for food, so we need to be sure there are no harmful substances in the terracotta. I try to not buy anything from China, but I never buy Chinese products that I'll use to cook or store food.

    dmoms, that great! The density of your bread is dependent on the type of bread flour you use. If you are using all wholemeal flour you will get a dense loaf. Replace ¼ of your flour with white flour and that will lighten it enough for a good sandwich loaf. If it isn't light enough, add a bit more white.

    renna, Italian pots will have it stamped on them, but try to buy local pots. There might be a potter near you who will make you up a few pots. Otherwise, ask at the store what the origin of the pots is - they will know.

  8. After tasting home baked multigrain bread, any person who suggests a low carb diet is discredited immediately!

  9. Thanks for the quick answer, RhondaJean! Good advice! :-)

  10. When you say repeat the process again, for the terracotta pots, do you mean re-oil as well as cook them again or just cook them again, (sorry if I sound a bit dense)I use my Chef machine to do the kneading, it makes it a lot easier. I always hold back about 1/4 cup of the liquid, in case it isn't needed, and I usually let the dough sit for 5 minutes after adding the liquid, it is amazing how much liquid is absorbed during that time, and then you may not need the water you have held back.
    take care

  11. I have had a breadmaker for about 10 years but until recently only made a couple of loaves a year. (Lazy)

    Since I started my footprint reduction scheme I have been making most of our bread and it is fantastic. Once you get into the habit of checking to see whether you need a loaf you can just set the timer over night and Hey Presto when you wake up there is a delicious smelling golden loaf waiting for you. Goes beautifully with home grown poached eggs!

    I have also made dough for ciabatta and pizza and there is absolutely nothing like home made. And no more stupid plastic bags that can't be used for anything else.

  12. rest is not idleness, yes, the entire process, but not the washing. Start at the oiling and then reheat. Sorry, it was not clearly written.

  13. the first change i made was making our own bread
    its easy! we do it daily generally and all made the decision that we wont go back to store bought again.
    i use my kitchen aid to do the mixing its great for it 20minutes let it rise punch it down and shape rise and bake.
    wish i could find an affordable way to use organic flour

    i wonder woman - my dh is a chef during winter if the fire wasnt going he would set the oven really low and proof the bread in the oven works a treat.
    my dh worked out that our bread is not even 50cents a loaf
    i love the flour pot idea thats cool

  14. We get bread as well from a local bakery once a week. And I hate to see that going to waste before we took it it went to feed horses - nothing against horses but what a waste. So now we have a freezer full of bread all the time. I think I will make a special loaf for weekends though. I never thought of using a bread make for the kneading part I just alwyas saw the little loaves that come out of them and thought oh my that isn't big enought to feed my lot!! What a waste of electricity. But now maybe I will keep my eye out for a second hand one.


  15. just thought i would add a scary bread preservative story

    during this year we lived at ronald macdonald house. in our pantry i had the staples...bread included for when my dh and daughter were in the house...a few days each week. one week when they arrived i had not gotten near a shop and had not been at the house for a few days because of surgery on our youngest. thought oh i will get it on the way out with older daughter who i was spending some time with including the night at ronald mac. forgot the bread. grr at my head. next morning downn for breakfast...lots of times people donate bread...into our pantry 2 weeks to the day of purchase the bread was still good enough to eat. great in that situation... BUT i was scared...who needs bread to last 2 weeks??? whats in the bread that makes it last 2 weeks?? and what is that doing to my family?? we came home a few weeks after that and a week later i started making our bread, putting me on a path i did not expect

  16. Thanks for this reminder Rhonda. I enjoy making our bread, but as yet haven't been able to find a routine that works for me to fit it into my life as a regular thing. Think I might go and start a loaf right now though. It's a bit cool here today so hopefully it will rise quickly enough to allow me to fit the cooking in around the school and sporting run. Does it hurt if I leave it too long on the second rise?

    I love your new blog too. I'm gathering info and creating a resource file for myself as I often go back to websites only to find they are gone or that I can't actually remember where i saw the particular piece of info. Hopefully it will also help with the times when i can't be bothered turning the computer back on just for 1 little peice of info i'm after. I'm sure that there will be many pages printed from the new blog.

    cheers kate

  17. I make up 'breadmix' of different organic flours for my breadmaker (when the baby is asleep) and store these in the freezer. Then I only need to add yeast, oil and warm water.

  18. I love to make my own bread. There is nothing like fresh, home-baked bread! Sometimes I use my Kitchen-Aid mixer to help me out. I love the terracotta pot idea, too.

  19. I make bread - don't have a breadmaker but do it myself as I do find the kneading very theraputic :) I rise it in the car as we live in a cold place. My little one thinks our car is magic, driving us places AND making bread LOL

  20. I'm so glad that you post bread machine recipes! I just got my first bread machine (a hand me down from my sister!) and made my first loaf of bread last week. It was the best. :) I informed my husband that were done buying bread.
    (It was pretty ugly, though, I'm posting it on my blog. I'll work on making pretty loaves like yours next, lol.)

  21. For years I made bread daily with my breadmaker, but after it broke and I started working full time I only bought store bread.
    A couple of months ago I felt the need to return to breadmaking and have found doing this by hand wonderfully relaxing. On a Friday night when I get home I love to make a loaf of bread and a cake for the family, it's my way of returning to the important things in my life and putting the stresses of the working week behind me. Even though I am tired at the end of the week it is mentally soothing.
    During the weekend I usually make a loaf both days and then sometimes a another midweek if we run out.
    But I do always keep one sliced store bought loaf in the freezer so my lads have quick access if I have been too busy or tired one night.
    Thanks for all the tips Rhonda, trying new recipes is always fun.

  22. Very informative post and also, gotta tell you my 8yo dd came over while I was reading your post and said, "Mommy, she's pretty!"... and pointed to you. Just thought I'd make your day a bit!

  23. Hi Rhonda,
    I want to share with melburnian bread makers where they can buy top quality breadmaking flour. This morning I bought 10kg of organic wholemeal for $17.50 at Hindustan in Dandenong. When I think about how I paid $6.50 for an organic loaf at the Vic. Market on the weekend,it didn't take much convincing to get back "into the knead"

  24. I love making my own bread and do it by hand.... gives me time out and I find it very relaxing and all of 15 mins to do the mix and first knead and then a few minutes for the second. I have had some problems with circulation in my hands that has all but gone since I started kneading. I have also been teaching my daughter and she loves the knead part and we talk while we bake.
    I have been working non stop for over a year to try and keep our family afloat during difficult times and who knew that bread making would help us to reconnect and give me time to think.

    I have a bread maker that has been unused for years so I am thinking of trading it for something I will use.

    I have ventured far from a few basic recipes as yet but we are ready to try some new things and these flower pot breads look like fun!


  25. I found your wonderful blog a few weeks ago because of your bread recipe. Yeast and I go round and round. Sometimes I win, sometimes yeast wins.

    Your bread was the first I ever made that actually turned out! I was so excited.


    Then today I tried dinner rolls, not biscuits but dinner rolls.

    I was crushed!

    Yeast won again! Ugh. I need a fool~proof roll recipe lol because frankly I don't know how much more disappointment I can take!

    Well, tomorrow is another day and another chance to go another round with yeast.

    Caryn Texas, USA

  26. I don't have a breadmaker (just one more thing which takes up space!) so I have always made bread by hand - I used to mix it in the Kenwood mixer, but now I do it all by hand, though it is usually just white bread or oat bread. My wholemeal has always been SO heavy (guess I'm not kneading it enough?)

    I'm not religious about it - sometimes we eat "boughten" loaves, the decent ones - but I get so much pleasure from breadmaking and it is so much more filling than the steam-risen loaves you buy at the supermarket. One slice of my bread and you know you've eaten it (and not because it's as heavy as lead either!) I now buy my bread flour in 16 kg sacks from a village shop which has - of necessity (but great for us!) turned into a locally-staffed co-operative buying in a really good selection of pulses, grains, etc. I get stone-ground flour from a Welsh water mill and it doesn't have that bleached-white look of over-processed flours.

    I've not tried the flower pot loaves (though I have that recipe in several of my bread making books). You have made me HUNGRY now, just looking at them!

  27. I read this post with interest, as I'd love to be able to bake a good loaf of bread. Mine usually rise ok but don't taste that nice, - too yeasty or not enough salt, perhaps.
    Pizza dough seems to work ok in our BM, so maybe I'll try giving the bread another go.

  28. Thanks to your inspiration Rhonda I dusted off my breadmaker a couple of months ago. After a few trials that turned out good enough for house bricks (haha) I've resorted to using the dough only cycle as you mention in this post - it works much better !! I have also just started grinding flour from wheat which is great. I was admiring your enamel bread bin & wonder how well it keeps the bread fresh for a day or two ? Thank you !

  29. Hello there...I'm here from Achorn Farm's sidebar of favorite blogs...
    I LOVE baking bread. Now, I tried to read through as many of your 29 (sheesh) comments as I could, so I hope I'm not repeating a question, but is there a way to adapt this recipe to not use a bread machine? I don't have one and I don't plan to get one...but this bread looks like so much fun.
    I'd also love the cake recipe you use to bake in the terra cotta pots, too! :-) Very nice blog.

  30. I've tried to bake bread many times over the years but one problem I keep getting over and over is that the inside of my baked loaf is still raw whilst the outer is starting to blacken. Any suggestions on how to get a well-baked loaf that is simply browned?

  31. kate, leaving it a bit longer for the second rise won't make any difference.

    cam, I rise my dough in the car during winter too. It's a great way to do it.

    good luck with your baking, a.

    sue, what a lovely dd you have. I hope she says that to you too. :- )

    bayside gardener, thank you so much for giving us that info. bakers often ask me where to buy flours and of course, in far off places, I have no idea. I have to tell you too, that price is really good!

    Tracy, I think it's wonderful that you're teaching your daughter to make break by hand. I wish you all the best, take care, love.

    Caryn, LOL! oh no, that yeast. grrrr I make rolls using a plain white bread recipe, you can see a photo of them here:
    You could make rolls using the recipe I used for the flower pot loaves, but use white flour.

    bovey belle, great to hear of your local co-op. It's great to have a close to home resource like that.

    Anna, that a common problem. People try to limit salt, sugar or oil for health reasons, but they are the ingredients that add flavour. You will always make a healthier loaf than the store bought ones, but you do need to add at least a teaspoon of salt and some sugar or honey to lift the taste of the flour - flour, alone, has no particular taste at all.

    Jeni, I'm pleased you've got the bread working now. The bread bin doesn't help at all with freshness - I don't think anything does. I bake on the day we eat the bread. The bin does keep the bread out of the open air - and any passing fly in summer.

    farmgirl, go to my bread tutorial - there is a link in the flowerpot post - there you will find a way of making bread by hand. Use this recipe with the method I describe in the tutorial. Good luck!

    yubusame, I think there is something wrong with your oven. It's too hot. If you've got it on the right setting, decrease the temperature by about 20 degrees and see how you go with that. good luck.

  32. I've been trying to make our bread, too. It's SO expensive to buy and we need lots since we've got three kids. It was nearly impossible to accomplish with all the kneading and rising times and then baking--I always ended up needing to be out of the house to drop someone off or pick someone up or go to work on my work days. Then I bought the book "artisan bread in five minutes a day" and it has really made a difference to cut out the kneading step. Plus I can make the basic dough and leave it in the fridge for up to two weeks, and scoop out a bunch for a loaf when I need it. It's probably not necessary to buy this book, I realize now, because there must be plenty of other no-knead recipes out there. I just came across this first. Would love to try the flowerpot idea. Thanks.

  33. bayside gardener

    can i ask the name of the shop with flour
    thats an affordable price!
    my research into buying flour has always resulted in way to expensive for a family so we have had to use normal flour and accept its the best we could do in that area

  34. I've just googled Bayside Gardener's recommendation for flour supplies in Melbourne- Hindustan Imports- and they have an online store which looks pretty amazing, and delivers outside the metro area( we are in northern Victoria.Just thought others might also like to look at it.

  35. Thank you for this gift of knowledge and encouragement. It is my desire to learn this skill this month. It is a goal. The gluten is the thing I needed to know about. You see I don't use wheat or would rather not. I love all different grains but found many have no gluten so I am on a quest for gluten. thanks

  36. Rhonda, I've made bread a couple of times before I was married, and while I liked it, I didn't quite make it a habit.

    When we got married, my husband tasted homemade pita bread and wanted to make his own. I showed him how to work with yeast, make the dough by hand, let it rise etc. He loves it, and now we bake bread regularly almost every week. In fact, only today I posted pictures of bread we made last time.

    I love the smell of freshly baked bread that fills the house. It tastes great, it's cheaper, and it's more filling than store-bought bread. It doesn't REALLY take that much time, either, because while the dough rises you can do other things.

  37. Hi

    I don't have time to make traditional bread by hand (or won't make time!) and didn't like the bread maker that I had. But I have been converted by using refrigerator dough - mix plain (not strong) flour, water, yeast & salt in a bowl with a spoon - no kneading. Then leave to rise for a couple of hours before storing in the fridge until you need it - it keeps for about a week. When you want to make a loaf, take out the amount of dough you need, put in a tin or shape onto a baking sheet, leave for about 20 minutes then stick in the oven. As long as I always have dough in the fridge, I find it very easy to bake a loaf when I get home from work (this evening I had the loaf in the tin and the next batch of dough mixed about 10 minutes after I walked through the door). It makes a fantastic, ciabatta-type bread and is really easy. I haven't bought bread since I started doing it this way - and I can make about 3 loaves for the same price as buying one!

  38. Thank you! I have been loving the idea of baking in flower pots, but nowhere have I seen the directions of how to prepare them for baking as you have outlined here.

  39. I can't remember which post you mentioned this ... but I finally got the nerve to call a very nice organic bread baking shop / company near me to see if they'd sell me large quantities of flour. They said YES! Gettin' it half price (compared to Whole Foods). Thanks. Very much enjoy your blog - don't belabor feeling like you can't speak to folks still in the thick of the kid thing b/c you're not in that season any longer ... as you are, with your life downunder you are very inspiring. Thank you. -Sandy

  40. Hi Rhonda! Great idea for the flower pots, I've been using them for years for whole wheat bread. Please know that you can't just use any old flower pot though, some contain lead which is very dangerous. It's best to buy them from a reputable source and make sure they are 100% clay. I think someone asked why you couldn't use the ones made in China, because they like lead!

  41. I forgot to add the I believe it's the glazed pots that may contain lead. I read somewhere that some pots might not look glazed but they have one or two coats to strengthen it. I would atleast research before just using any pot. Sorry for the double post!! Love your site!

  42. First off I want to say I really enjoy your blog.. I just love the idea of pots.. I can make bread with out a machine but I like my machine and I put it on the dough cyle.. I was wondering If you sprayed the clay pots with out using parchment if it would be ok... Thanks and Happy Baking to you.. I bake every day for our farmstand...

  43. sisterbrenda, I always use the parchment paper because I don't want the bread to stick. I've never done it in the pots without paper. But you could try it and see what happens.

  44. Hmm you gotta love comments 4 years after the initial post... I blame google.
    I love the idea of flowerpots, it would allow me to bake several small loaves at once, to cater for different 'requirements'.
    So I can do a glutenfree loaf, a lactose free one and a normal one in one go, instead of having the oven going for hours on end. I can only fit two small loaf tins in mine, but 3 pots should fit, maybe even 4.
    Does it matter if the pots have holes in the bottom? That seems to be all I can find locally...
    PS. I'm 31, and I grew up baking bread, and continued it when I moved out of home at 17. I just coudn't live without real bread!

  45. Anneke, the pots with a hole in the bottom are fine for this. I just put a slip of baking paper over the base. Good luck!

  46. Can you use frozen bread dough for the flowerpot bread?

  47. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I found your blog when looking for info on using terracotta flower pots for baking bread. I have now started the process of seasoning the pots.
    Could you please tell me after proving the dough in the pots can I put them into a hot oven?
    I don't seem to be able to find out this information. I have read that clay pots should go into a cold oven or they will break.
    Look forward to your reply as want to bake in the next few days.
    Many thanks

    1. Hi sweatpea. As long as you season the pots as outlined in the post, you can put the proved dough in the pot into a hot oven. That's how I've always baked mine and I've never had a problem. Good luck with yours.

    2. Thanks for the quick reply Rhonda. I'll let you know how things go......!



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