Bread Making

Like many, the thought of bread baking was beyond my capability…or so I thought.  And, looking back I don’t know why?  I had mastered some pretty good skills on fairy cakes and cheese scones from the age of 7 or 8, so why did I think I couldn’t master bread?   It wasn’t until years, probably 25 years later that I even tried it.  And I only tried it because I bought a bread making machine from the car boot for a fiver!  For a while the machine worked for me.  So I moved up a gear and bought bread packet mixes and ditched the £5 bread machine.  These worked pretty well too.   I didn’t move on to actual bread making until my late thirties and again, this was because I bought myself a Kitchen Aid (electric blue) and the Kitchen Aid gave me the confidence to make bread from scratch.   Totally and utterly weird thought-pattern, but I’m sure I’m not alone.

Yes, there’s a knack to it, but I think it’s all in the proofing.  You know if you’re going to get a good bake before it goes in the oven…and sometimes my bread still fails.  I’m sure there’s some science to it, but I can’t figure out what it is.  However, if my bread hasn’t doubled in size when proofing, I throw it away and start again.  I don’t get disheartened.

IMG_6567

What I Use:

500g strong bread flour, one packet (7g) of fast-acting yeast, 10g of salt, 15ml of olive oil and 320ml of water (from the warm tap).

What I do:

I place the flour in my basin, the yeast one side and the salt, the other side.  Never let the two meet (apparently this is key).  I pour in the olive oil and half of the water, with my dough attachment I mix the dough for about five minutes, slowly adding the water.   The dough needs to be almost-sticky-like-texture.  I know when the dough is ready because it envelops itself around the dough hook.  Once this happens, I place the dough in a well oiled bowl, put over a fresh teacloth and leave to proof until it doubles in size.  Sometimes, this takes 90 minutes, sometimes it takes two and even three hours.  Once it doubles in size, I flour my surface and and knead the air out of the dough – this takes about five minutes.  I then place on a baking tray, with parchment paper and put in a large bag (the Lidl ones work perfectly). I then let it rest again for 30 minutes, meanwhile I heat up the oven to 220 and boil the kettle.  After 30 minutes, I add one litre of water to a roasting tray and put this on the bottom shelf of the oven (this gives a crisp edge to the bread)  I take my bread from the plastic bag, spray (or sprinkle) with water and add three or four slashes with a sharp knife.   I then put the bread in the oven for 25 minutes, I turn the heat down to 200 and bake for a further 10 minutes on the lower heat.   Once baked, I leave to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes, before moving to a wire rack.

If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again…(or so my Mother would say!).

Enjoy! X

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