One of the most rewarding ways of saving money has to be learning to bake your own bread but for many the process can seem overwhelming – critical points like the temperature of the water, what’s the correct technique to knead the dough, how long to knead the dough, all of these things are enough to send the novice baker back to the supermarket for a wrapped loaf of mass produced factory bread.
It’s a real shame as homemade crusty bread is so much better than anything you can buy encased in plastic and it is cheaper too at around half the price of the average wrapped loaf.
But sometimes, no matter how enthusiastic you are, reading books on how to make great bread at home, although inspiring, can make the whole procedure seem more like a science lesson than something fun to do an a Saturday afternoon in your kitchen.
Chefs and artisan bread makers will give you formulas and techniques to make super wet doughs and long fermenting times for full flavour but for an everyday white crusty loaf, like you used to buy from the baker, perfect for your Sunday morning bacon butty, the whole process is simple and straightforward. It’s a great activity to do with kids as well because, unlike pastry, the dough cannot be overworked.
So I want to encourage anyone who thinks they cannot make bread or hates the thought of all that wet sloppy dough sticking to their fingers to grab their stand mixer and try this recipe for tasty, fresh crusty bread – your taste buds and your family will love you for it!
325 grams warm water – just pleasantly warm when you put your finger in it…not too hot
10 grams salt
15 grams vegetable oil
500 grams strong white bread flour
7 grams fast action yeast
Stand mixer with a dough hook – we use a Kitchen Aid but we also have a Kenwood Chef, both give excellent results!
Digital Scales – for consistent results and ease of measuring the ingredients
Tea towel or muslin
A 2lb loaf tin – metal is so much better than silicone!
Into the stand mixer’s bowl first add the 325g of warm water.
Next add the salt and the oil to the water then the 500g of bread flour.
Finally sprinkle the yeast on top of the flour and very gently, using your fingertips just mix the yeast lightly into the flour to distribute it evenly.
Now using the dough hook, mix on the lowest speed until a dough is formed then turn up the speed to the next level (no.1) and let the mixer do all of the hard work kneading the dough for 10 minutes.
When the 10 minutes is up, tip the dough out and shape into a neat ball. Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with a damp cloth – a tea towel or similar (I use a piece of muslin) – and leave in a warm, draught free place for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size. If the room is cool this may take a bit longer.
I the meantime, grab your tin that you will be baking the bread in and use a pastry brush to lightly oil the inside then coat thoroughly with flour, turning the tin upside down and giving it a sharp tap to remove the excess.
When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for only a few seconds to knock it back – this is done to remove the large air bubbles that have formed and you will get a lovely even texture to your finished bread.
Now to shape the dough ready to go into the tin you need to flatten it into a rectangle with your fingers so that the shortest edge is as wide as the length of the tin you are using. Now the dough is rolled so take the edge of the dough nearest to you (the shorter edge) and fold it into the middle, pressing the edge down to seal it in the middle of the dough then continue to roll the dough so that the seam is underneath and you have a sausage shape.
Place the dough into the tin and cover with the damp cloth then leave to rise again until doubled in size. This usually takes about 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Preheat your oven to 220°c fan / 240°f / gas 9 and, when its ready, bake your bread just below the middle of the oven for 30 minutes.
Keep an eye on the crust to make sure it doesn’t brown too much for taste. If it is looking a little dark then reduce the heat. As soon as it is cooked, remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.
The beauty of making your everyday bread this way is that it takes very little hands on time – while its rising you can easily leave it all alone and go off and do something exciting!
Please, if you love good bread, give this a go and let me know how you get on. If you have any questions, pop them in the comments below.
What we used:
Click on the photos for more information