I love making my own bread. I see it as one of the simple pleasures of life and I enjoy it even more when I teach someone how to do it and they realise that it isn’t difficult at all! Apart from being easy to make, bread is also a very cheap product to make. It’s such a pleasure too, knowing that you know exactly what goes into your bread: no additives nor preservatives.
When I was about 14 years old, I had to pass by a bakery on my way to and from school. In the early mornings, we could smell the fresh bread being made but of course the bakery wasn’t open to the public so all we could do was to savour the aroma of that freshly baked batch of bread!
On the way back from school in the afternoon however, the bakery would be open and you could buy a fresh loaf of bread that was still warm and absolutely delightful to tear and share with a friend or two on the way home. By the time we got home our stomachs would still be full from eating the bread that we wouldn’t even want dinner!
Today I still have the pleasure of that smell, only this time, I am used to making my own fresh bread using a few very basic ingredients that are not expensive at all. Follow these steps and you can make your own loaf, or a few soft, brown bread rolls. Next time I will show you how to make pizza and even foccacia.
The ingredients I usually use and which give me the best results are listed below
1 Tbsp olive oil or butter (it just makes the bread stay fresh longer)
3 tsp yeast (fast action)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
150 ml warm water
Now it is best if your hands, the equipment, ingredients and even the room are warm. This is because the yeast works best and fastest if the conditions are nice and warm.
To start off, make sure that everything is weighed and measured accurately. Place all the ingredients except the water in the bowl and mix using a knife. Then make a well in the centre of the mixture and add most of the warm water (keep a tiny bit back just in case you do not need all of it)
Note that if you are using wholemeal flour, you will need more water as the flour is quite coarse.
Once the liquid is in, mix together to form a soft but not sticky dough. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, put some jazzy music on, and knead the dough using the palm of your hands for at least 10 minutes. The dough should be nice and elastic as well as it should feel quite warm. If it begins to feel cold, it means that you are not working the dough enough! So get a move on with the kneading!
After the first period of kneading, shape the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl to prove (rise). You may brush a little oil on the surface of the dough to prevent it cracking. Leave it covered with cling film or a clean tea towel for at least an hour, or until the dough doubles in size, whichever one comes first.
This stage used to amaze me! My little dough ball is much bigger than when I left it and it is amazing to think that my efforts put into kneading the dough and not babying it, are actually working.
Place the dough ball back on the work surface, get your music back on, and knock the air out of it! Sounds wicked, doesn’t it? But that’s just what it needs.
Once the loaf or rolls have doubled in size again, place into a hot oven 200 degrees Celsius or Gas Mark 6 and make until the tops are a light golden colour. Wash up and read a post while you wait.
You will know if it is ready by knocking the underside of one of the rolls or the loaf with your knuckles. It should sound hollow inside if it is done.
When will you give this a go? You really should, and very soon. Your neighbour will wonder where that smell is wafting from. They’ll also want you to show them how to make bread too! If you’re not careful, you’ll eat a whole loaf while it’s still warm, like I used to do back in the day.
Let us know if you plan to try this. And if you do have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Look out for our pizza and focaccia recipe.
This post was proofread by Grammarly