I recently got back into baking fresh bread each week and I am so glad I have. There is nothing better than the smell of freshly baked bread and it is not as difficult as you might think.
First and most important tip:
Buy a loaf tin. I have two different size loaf tins:
A 1lb for a smaller loaf and a 2lb for a family loaf.
I got mine in Sainsbury’s and they have been a life saver. They ease away the strain of having to ensure that you shape the dough and also mean that 9 times out of 10 the loaf is going to look aesthetically pleasing.
The only other tip I have to ensure your bread rises effectively is to always prove it twice. Also, place a damp tea towel over your dough for each proof. After mixing and kneading your dough you are ready to commence your first proof. I have started proofing it in the oven on a really low heat. If you are lucky enough to have a ‘dough proving’ setting on your oven use this but if not turning on the oven at the lowest temperature works just as well. The first proof I will leave for an hour, before kneading the dough once more and placing it in the loaf tin. Then I will place it back in the oven for the second proof. As it is now in the loaf tin, the bread will shape itself in the second proof just before you place it in the oven.
What else do you need to know:
In terms of recipes its all about playing around and seeing what flavours you like. I prefer wholemeal bread and I don’t add sugar to mine as I find it too sweet. The key with mixing it is to prepare the dry ingredients first; the flour (strong flour is essential for bread), sugar, salt and yeast before adding the warm water and oil. After the first mix you need to knead (no pun intended!) the bread for a good ten minutes. Treat it as a mini cardio workout and stick with it! I promise this is the most difficult part as it is only after the length of time the dough will start to feel a little more elastic, which is perfect. The mixing and kneading time is no more than 20 minutes and to me that doesn’t seem too much effort for some fresh bread. After all, while the bread is proving you can get on with whatever else you like.
Best thing is to try it and I am confident you will love the results!
Wholemeal Loaf (recipe for a 1lb tin, double if necessary)
250g of Strong Wholemeal Bread Flour
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Yeast
1 Tsp Sugar (Optional)
165 Ml of Warm Water
1 Tbsp of Oil
Mix the dry ingredients.
Add the oil and water.
Mix in the bowl.
Sprinkle some flour on your worktop and knead for at least 10 minutes.
Place back in the bowl and leave to prove for an hour.
Take out and knead for a further 10 minutes.
Grease your loaf tin and place the dough into it. Leave to prove for a further 45 minutes.
Baked in a pre-heated oven (200 Celsius) for 35 minutes (or 45/50 minutes if you double the recipe!).
Tip it out of the tin and knock on the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds as a knock should the loaf is cooked. Leave to cool on a cooling rack.