I started making my own bread (get me) last year after discovering:
a) how easy it is
b) how cheap it is (making by hand versus buying it in your local supermarket is, I reckon, and bear in mind absolutely no scientific research has gone into this, at least half the price)
c) the sense of satisfaction you get from making your own loaf (comparable to that sense of satisfaction you got as a small child when you presented to your parents with a self-portrait made entirely with pasta shells that took at least an entire afternoon and subsequently meant there was nothing left for supper).
Its a nice relaxing Sunday kindof activity. Pop on Radio 2's Sunday Morning Love Songs, grab the pinny and away you go.
This recipe is for a simple, but darnit delicious, white loaf.
500g Strong White Bread Flour
2 tsp salt
3 tbsps olive oil
7g sachet of fast acting yeast
300ml tepid water
Extra flour for dusting
(not an E number or preservative in sight!)
Grab a large bowl. Pop in your flour, salt and yeast. Make a hole in the centre, then add the tepid water and oil. Grab a knife, bringing the wet and dry ingredients together a few times. Sprinkle a very very light covering of flour onto your work surface. Pop the contents of the bowl onto your work surface and now the fun starts! Kneading.
Kneading is basically the pushing, pulling, pummelling, stretching and drawing apart of the dough to aerate it as much as possible, evenly incorporate the ingredients and it also enables some scientific bit about getting the gluten to work. It should take about ten minutes or so. Once you've done this, wash out your large bowl, brush lightly the oil and pop your dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a teatowel, then put the bowl in a warmish place for an hour to allow the dough to rise. Near to a radiator or in the airing cupboard will do nicely. After the hour is up, the dough should have doubled in size.
Then, knock back the dough by punching it (this bread making lark is fun right?) a couple of times. Take it out of the bowl and place on a baking sheet, moulding into a ball shape, or if you prefer, a bloomer style shape. Leave to prove for 30min-1 hour. When proven you can use a sharp knife to 'draw' a cross or a couple of lines in the top of the dough- it'll make it look well fancy, as though from a posh French bakery. In it goes in the oven, for approx 25 min (220 C/fan oven 200 C/Gas Mark 7). You know when its done when you pick the loaf up and, when you knock the bottom it sounds hollow.
Voila! Lush, tasty fresh bread!
Some useful tips:
- Properly and accurately measure out your ingredients. Not to be a stickler or anything but it does make a right difference to your loaf
- I tend to use the sachet of fast acting yeast, but I know some homebaking purists prefer fresh yeast (available from your local bakers or bakery counter in the supermarket). Delia reckons there is no difference
- You can pop the 'first rise' dough in the fridge overnight, this can be a useful time saver and, some argue, leads to a deeper flavoured loaf
- Homemade bread lasts about two days, but freezes easily