This week, as it is real bread week, I have asked my bread baking buddy Mitch Poole to guest blog. I did actually make this loaf myself last week, so I know the recipe works and is delicious!
Nothing beats the taste and smell of fresh baked bread and as this week is national Real Bread Week I thought I’d share with you my favourite bread recipe. Aside from real bread being additive free, it is also far more filling and sustaining than commercial bread. Just like baking a cake it takes a little practice, but it is well worth the effort. It’s also cheap, the materials cost around 40p for a large loaf.
Talking to fellow home bakers I’m often in awe at the level of baking skill that they possess and the astonishing projects that they take on. Their ambition seems boundless, except when it comes to baking bread, when a haunted look of fear appears in their eyes. I’ve never understood why this is so.
Once mastered it is easier to bake a loaf than a cake.
Bread dough is far more forgiving than cake or biscuit baking and less precise. It just takes a little practice, patience and a really good recipe. This is mine, it’s a really easy dough to handle because of the oil and makes a lovely tasty loaf.
Ingredients: 500g strong white flour 7g fast action yeast (or one sachet) 1 x tsp salt 180ml milk 70ml olive oil 100ml water (as a tip I always weigh the liquid 1 x ml is the same as 1 x gram)
Method Take two large mixing bowls, lightly oil one and set it aside.
In the other weigh out your flour and place the yeast on one side of the bowl and the salt on the other (there’s method in this madness as salt can kill or retard the yeast at this stage).
In a measuring jug measure out your milk then heat it gently in the microwave for 50 seconds just to warm it up a little then add in your olive oil and water (in total you’ll then have 350ml liquid).
Return to the mixing bowl and with your fingers quickly mix together the flour, yeast and salt then pour the liquid into the bowl and stir it together with a mixing spoon until it start to come together.
Now it’s time to get messy – hold the bowl with one hand and get your other hand into the bowl and with your hand like a claw start to drag and scrape the dough up and down in the bowl while mixing it together. The purpose of this is to start to create the gluten strands which will start almost immediately.
After a couple of minutes scrape the dough out of the bowl and start to knead it. Because of the oil in this dough it shouldn’t be too sticky so there shouldn’t be a need to flour the work top.
Once the dough has come together, it starts to look glossy and has formed a ball place the ball of dough into the clean, lightly oiled bowl and either place a plate on the top or clingfilm and leave it to prove.
You now need to wait until the dough has doubled in size. This is dependent on how warm your room is but it should take between an hour…or two, so wash up, do other things and make a cuppa.
Once doubled in size you now need to knock back the dough. Basically this is kneading again for a couple of minutes to push the air out of it.
It now depends how you want to shape your loaf. If you wish to make a round free form loaf, shape the dough into a ball and put it on a baking sheet (try tucking it around, so that the seam sits underneath the dough) (I place a mixing bowl over the top to help it prove)
Or, shape the dough into a rugby ball shape and put it into a large loaf tin, greased with butter and cover with lightly oiled cling film.
Put your oven on and set to 200 degrees.
Your dough will now rise relatively quickly. Once it has again doubled in size, remove the clingfilm or bowl, dust the top in flour and pop in the oven. The baking smell will be divine!
Set your timer for 22 minutes for a round loaf, or 29 for the tin loaf and test them at this stage. To test if it is baked, with oven gloves on of course, remove from the tin or tray and tap it on the bottom. It should sound hollow or drum like. If it isn’t ready chuck it back in the oven for 3 or 4 minutes.
Once removed from the oven place on a cooling tray to cool. Though tempting to eat it hot, don’t. The bread won’t cut properly and it can also lead to indigestion attributed to IBS.