We never eat shop bought bread in our house. I work full time and have a one hour commute either way so how do I do it? Well, there’s a few tricks I employ to ensure a fresh home-baked bread supply and I’m willing to share them.
Bread should only ever have five ingredients – flour, salt, water, yeast and enough sugar to ferment the yeast i.e. 1 tbsp. Mass produced processed bread can contain up to 15 ingredients and I’ll leave you to guess if any of them are any good for us. This wholemeal bread recipe serves as a great base for any type of day to day bread you may need (or knead! Sorry). It can be shaped into loaves, rolls, baguettes or even rolled flat and used as wholemeal pizza base. You can add seeds or bran or even olives/sundried tomatoes – whatever you want. My daily bread always features a handful of onion seeds but sometimes I add chocolate & coffee to the warm water, use molasses instead of sugar and then throw in a tbsp of caraway seeds which gives a sort of black German bread which is divine. (This does not contradict what I said earlier – the basic bread is still made of the four ingredients I stated).
I get my baker’s yeast from Sainsburys bakery counter. It costs 99p for a huge block which keeps me going for months and – this is the best bit – you can break it up into smaller pieces and FREEZE it. Bargain, eh?
8 oz strong brown flour
8 oz strong white flour
4 oz stoneground wholewheat flour
14 fl oz warm water
1 oz baker’s yeast
1 tbsp sugar or honey or molasses
1 tsp salt
Place the yeast in the warm water with the sugar. When it has dissolved either knead it into the flour (with the salt added to it) by hand or – and this is that cheat I was telling you about – stick it in the bread machine to knead or do it with the dough hook on a food processor. When the dough is thoroughly smooth and does not stick to your hands place it in a bowl and put it somewhere warm covered with cling film for a tea towel. OR (and this is the second cheat) put it in the fridge to rise overnight or while you’re out at work. The cold temperature in the fridge won’t stop the yeast doing it’s thing, it will merely slow it down. The next stage – whether you’re doing it after one hour of normal rising or 8 or so hours of fridge rising – it to knock the dough back, shape it into a loaf or rolls and allow it to rise again for another 20 mins, again somewhere nice and warm. Bake at gas mark 4 for 40 mins for a loaf and 25 mins for rolls. I always like to turn them halfway through cooking so they get a nice undercrust. It may seem like a hassle but good artisan bread costs a bomb and it really is not that hard to make your own.