Bread, bread, glorious bread!

Although cakes really are my passion, lately I have been rediscovering the joys of bread making. I have been making bread on and off for years but not really regularly. Well, since the addition to my kitchen appliances of a food  mixer with a dough hook, all the hard work has been removed and left me with all the fun bits.

A firm favourite at the moment is a recipe gleaned from the latest River Cottage offering Veg. In the bready things section the first recipe you come across is the one for magic bread dough. It is indeed magic as well as easy, very forgiving and tasty. Can’t really ask much more from home made bread but as an added bonus it keeps really well, which means I can make them on a Sunday night and the kids can take in for packed lunches for a couple of days.

Right on we go

Ingredients:

  • 250g plain white flour
  • 250g strong white flour
  • 1 and a half level teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon easy blend dried yeast
  • 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil or olive oil
  • 325ml warm water

N.B I usually add around 8 – 10g salt and 5 – 7 g yeast. As my teaspoons are various sizes it just made sense to me to weigh these ingredients but the above is true to Hugh’s recipe in the book.

Method:

  • If you are using a food mixer with a dough hook put the water in the bowl first and then the dry ingredients. It mixes more easily for you. Once the ingredients start coming together drizzle in your oil. Set your mixer to the slowest setting and then leave it to knead your dough until it is silky and smooth which will take around 10 minutes.
  •  If you are mixing this by hand then put your dry ingredients in first and then add the water and oil. I use a dinner knife first to give this a good mix. Once it starts coming together you will have to get stuck in with your hands. It is messy but very very satisfying to take out the days stresses on a lump of dough. Be as aggressive as you like, the dough will reward you by becoming silky smooth. Don’t worry if it seems sticky, this is a good thing and the more you knead the dough the less sticky it becomes.
  • Once you are happy with your dough  you will need to leave it in a bowl which you can cover with cling film. I usually use a shower cap as they fit perfectly and are so easy to put on and take off. You can pick these up really cheaply on eBay. Leave your dough in a cozy corner to prove itself for at least an hour and it will double in size beautifully.
  • Once it has done this tip it out onto your floured surface and knock it back.
  • Now you can be as creative as you like, this dough makes fab breadsticks and rolls as pictured below, but you can use it to make flatbreads and pizzas too or as Hugh suggests an ordinary white loaf.
As a rough guide for breadsticks use walnut sized pieces of dough and then roll them out into your breadsticks. Pop them onto a lightly oiled baking tray and leave to prove again for 15 minutes. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. Once your dough sticks have proven themselves like the good little soldiers they are, pop them into the ove for around 15 minutes until golden brown. Then try and stop the kids eating them as soon as they come out of the oven!
For the bread rolls, divide your dough into balls around the size of an apple and pop these onto a prepared baking tray. Leave these to prove themselves for around an hour. They should double in size. Once they have achieved their goal size pop them into a slightly hotter oven (220 degrees C) and bake for between 15 and 25 minutes. You know your oven the best. The rolls need to be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on their bottoms.
Happy Baking my lovlies,
Enjoy
Lx

 

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