It's been another busy week but I always find the time to make bread. I have to now, we're so spoiled by homemade, unless we're on holiday in France, we don't enjoy shop bought much anymore. As promised here's the recipe I use for everyday loaves;
500g strong white bread flour
12g dried instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
300g tepid water
40g olive oil
If I'm in a hurry or feeling lazy I use a stand mixer but the recipe works just as well by hand. Put the flour into the mixing bowl and add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other. When you are ready to begin, stir the dry ingredients together and then pour in the liquid. Mix for a minute with the paddle attachment (or your hands). The dough will be a sticky mass at this point but scrape it all off the paddle and attach the dough hook. Knead for 6 minutes on a low to medium speed (or until it feels smooth and elastic in your hands). If I'm making the bread by hand I like to stretch it in an arc so that it falls back on itself trapping air at every stretch. Just lift one end and flip it back over itself. Although it is quite wet when you start kneading it will firm up and become very elastic.
After kneading, divide the dough into two on an oiled surface. (I never flour the worktop because that alters the balance of the mix and makes the bread dry). If you have a bread cutter that's perfect but otherwise use a sharp knife.
Put the dough balls into clean, lightly oiled bowls and cover with a smooth cloth or oiled cling film. Leave to rest in a warm place.
After an hour has passed the dough should have doubled in size and look like this.
Turn the dough onto the oiled worktop and knock it back gently. Then shape into a ball by folding the edges of the dough into the middle rotating the dough ball as you do so. Turn the ball over and smooth the top by stretching it gently towards the base of the ball with your hands. Place the dough onto a baking sheet with the smooth side up.
As you can see from the picture above, I often double the quantities and make four small loaves at a time and I always sprinkle a generous amount of semolina on the tray - it prevents the dough from sticking and helps give a nice crust.
Cover the dough with a smooth cloth again and leave it to prove for about an hour in a warm room. When it has roughly doubled in size again I make a slash with a very sharp blade, paint the tops gently with milk and sprinkle on some sesame seeds. The trays go into a very hot oven - Gas Mark 8 or equivalent. As soon as I close the oven door I turn the heat down to Gas 7 and set the timer for 25 minutes. After just 5 minutes in the oven I rotate the trays 180 degrees and switch the one that has been on the top shelf with the one on the lower shelf. You may not have to do this but I know my oven and it's essential for me to get an even bake! I will check it again after a few minutes to see if I need to rotate the trays once more.
Here's the finished result. It seems as though it's very time consuming and of course bread making does take time but you don't have to be watching it at every step. Make sure you have a timer with you and you can be busy about your business most of the time while the dough does its own thing!
I think I've read every book there is on bread making and my recipe is cannibalised from all that I've read and tried. It works for me and I hope you'll enjoy having a go too.
Thanks for reading this even if your not interested in baking. I'll be back soon with proper work!