I can’t tell you how much I love baking my own bread. I love the science behind it. I love the feel of the dough. I love the smell when it’s baking. But most of all I love the flavour of homemade bread.
It’s a whole different species than a ready sliced loaf. For most shop bought loaves, especially white ones, the bread is just a vehicle for the sandwich filling or the toast topper and offers hardly anything in the way of nutrients and goodness. Proper bread is proper food. It’s the main event. It’s nutritious. It’s delicious. And you can cut extra thick slices.
Making your own bread means preservative and additive free. Once I’d read Rose Prince’s book “the new english kitchen changing the way you shop, cook and eat”, in particular the chapter on the bread making industry (although the chapter on margarine is a real eye opener too), and how the humble loaf of bread is adulterated with additives to make it rise quicker, improvers to make it taste better, and preservatives to make it last on supermarket shelves longer… I was completely put off buying shop bread. Even now, I look on the label to make sure that any loaf I’m buying only contains what it should…. flour, yeast, sugar, salt and water…. Making your own also means your house smells like a bakers shop, you get excellent toast and have access to the most scrumptious breadcrumbs imaginable that you can use in your cooking. Real bread just goes harder.. and staler.. as the days go by… it doesn’t get green mould on it.
I think bread making has a bad reputation. Supposedly it takes so long to make that we’ve had to resort to breadmakers because otherwise you have to knead it for ages and then wait for it to rise for hours and hours before you can even bake it.
Real bread made with yeast does take time it’s true because the yeast needs time to work it’s magic but the good news is that you don’t have to stand there watching it. The yeast will happily get on doing what it does even if you’re sleeping or out at work or shopping or whatever else you need to do.
Once you realise that you don’t have to work around the bread, the bread can work around you… making your own delicious wholemeal bread everyday becomes a real possibility.
You’ll see in this recipe that I hardly spend any time kneading the bread, a few minutes is all, and I don’t even take it out of the bowl to save making a mess. If you’ve had a stressful day, a good ole bashing session with the bread and copious amounts of flour is a great stress buster but if you’re strapped for time, you don’t have to. Kneading the dough stretches the gluten in the flour which is what makes the bread light and fluffy inside. If you knead only a little the bread will be denser (I like it this way), if you knead for longer the bread will be lighter. The choice is yours depending on whether you can be bothered, whether you have time and what type of bread you want to eat.
The yeast will make the bread rise within an hour in a warm room. But you can leave bread dough in the fridge overnight and it will still have risen by morning. Or you can leave it on the side all day in a cool room and it’ll be done by the time you get home. Or you can speed up the rising process by putting it in a low oven for 30 minutes first before baking it. The bread can work around you.
What you need:
1lb wholemeal/granary flour
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
300ml hand hot water
1 tbsp sugar/honey
1 tsp salt
1 sachet of dried yeast
What to do:
Put the flour in a large bowl.
Then add the sugar, salt and yeast.
The best way to make the water hand-hot (i.e you can stick your hand in comfortably) is to add 100ml boiling water from the kettle and top up to 300ml with water from the cold tap. Mix the oil and water together in a jug and stir into the flour mixture.
Stir it together until it starts to form a clump.
Put a little oil on your hand and knead it for a few minutes (or 10 minutes if stressed and need the relief), pushing and pulling, until it becomes smooth
Cover with clingfilm and leave for an hour or longer (as is convenient to you) until puffed up.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, line a tin with greaseproof paper and press the dough in.
Bake for 30 minutes until risen and golden.
Hope you like this recipe and that you feel inspired to bake some bread soon.
Let me know what you think via the comments and if you make it tag a photo #sixmixtricks on instagram