Vienna Bread

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


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Vienna was in the forefront of European bakery: not just for sweet pastries, chocolate cakes and delicacies like croissants, whose crescent shape was a memento of the defeat of the Turks at the siege of Vienna, but for its bread as well.


  • 30 g/1 oz fresh yeast
  • 525 ml/19 fl oz very cold water
  • 900 g/2 lb unbleached white bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 30 g/1 oz dried milk powder
  • 30 g/1 oz butter


  1. Cream the yeast in the water. Mix the flour, salt and dried milk powder in a bowl and rub in the butter. Make a well in the centre and add the liquid. Mix to a dough, which should be moist but not wet. Turn on to a floured work surface and knead energetically for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Leave the dough to rise in a bowl covered with oiled clingfilm in a warm place (21°C/70°F) for at least 3 hours. Every hour, knock back the dough in the bowl and replace the cover. This encourages high expansion.

    Every hour, knock back the dough in the bowl, then replace the clingfilm.

  3. When ready for moulding, divide the dough into four pieces and shape them into balls. Leave them to rest, covered and protected from draughts, at the side of the table for 15 minutes. Shape each of them into a baton by flattening the ball of dough with the hand, turning the left and right sides in to meet in the centre, and sealing the joint thus produced.
  4. Roll up the oblong cushions by turning with both hands, sealing the joint with the backs of the the thumbs as you roll. After that, extend the length of the loaf by rolling and stretching with the flat of both hands. It is best to make this shape in stages, dealing with each loaf turn and turn about, letting each rest while dealing with the others. This will avoid tearing the dough while stretching it.
  5. Once moulded into shape, put them to prove, either seam side downwards directly on greased and warmed baking sheets, or in floured proving baskets seam side uppermost. Cover with oiled clingfilm to avoid skinning. Leave to prove at 29°C/85°F for about 1 hour, or until they have doubled in size. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 230°C/450°F/gas 8.
  6. When the loaves are proved, turn them on to warmed and greased baking sheets if you used proving baskets. Slash them four times in slanting diagonals, as if a French stick. Bake on the upper shelf in the oven, creating lots of steam in the oven by spraying water from an atomizer at least three times in the first 5 minutes. Bake for 20 minutes. If you have to bake on two shelves, make sure the trays are swapped over halfway through the cooking time, unless you have a fan-assisted oven. If, at the end of the cooking time, the loaves are not golden-crusted and sounding hollow when tapped, bake for another 10-15 minutes.