Bread!

Bread plays such an important part in our everyday lives, and while artisan producers and local bakeries makes some wonderful loaves cost can be an issue for many.

The alternatives are higher end supermarket loaves or home made!

Ok we know many people blanche at the idea of making their own bread, and its not the easiest thing to get right but isn’t half the fun trying?

Even a poor loaf is usually edible in parts, and with practice eventually it will come right!
What could be better than a loaf of home made bread, it costs about 75p in ingredients, about 50p in energy to cook, and fills the house with a wonderful baking smell, plus it tastes good as well!

So whats needed?

Clean hands, a mixing bowl (or clean worktop if you are brave!) A wooden spoon or mixer with bread hook. Weighing scales a bread tin, baking sheet, or cake tin, and an oven.

Ingredients: 450g strong bread flour (we 50/50 white and wholemeal) 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey, 7g dried yeast, 1.5 teaspoons of salt, 350ml hand warm water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 30g mixed seeds, we use pumpkin and sunflour seeds but this is opitional).

Method: Put all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (or mound up on a worktop) and mix together.

Dry ingredients in a bowl

Make a depression in the middle of the dry mix and add the olive oil and some of the water.
Mix into a smooth dough that does not stick to hands or bowl. A moist flexible mixture is ok, if it is too wet add more wholemeal flour.

Dough

When the dough is combined and flexible, form it into a sausage shape on the worktop.
Pull one end across to the middle, then the other, and stretch the sausage out again, repeat this step four or five times and the dough will start to be elastic.

Form the dough into a sausage if using a bread tin, a round if using a 6 or 7 inch cake tin, or keep as a sausage shape if using a baking sheet.

Ensure the cooking pan tin or sheet is greased and floured (nonstick doesn’t always work, or line with greaseproof paper)

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You can slash the top of the dough to give some extra texture to the finished loaf but this is optional. Dust with flour (we use rye for this but wholemeal is fine).

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Leave the dough to prove (grow), depending where you do this and the temperature this process could take a couple of hours to overnight.

When the dough has proved it will be up to double in size, if using a medium bread pan it will stand above the rim.

Preheat you oven to 200 degrees (Gas mark 6) and bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the crust is golden brown, or darker if you prefer.
Remove your loaf from the oven take it out of the container. To check it is cooked tap the bottom of the loaf, it should sound sort of hollow.

If further cooking time is needed protect the crust from burning with foil and return the loaf to the oven until it is ready (5minutes or so).

Cooked loaf

When cooked put the loaf on a cooling rack and allow to cool before slicing and devouring with butter or spread of your choice!

This recipe makes a fairly densley textured loaf of approximately 750g in weight.

The recipe is suitable for vegetarians if honey is used as the sweetening agent, or is suitable for vegetarians and vegans if sugar derived from sugar beet is used (cane sugar is processed using bone char so is not vegan friendly).

Following our summer break the breadmaking continues to save us money, ensure we know whats in our food, and develop our baking skills.

We are experimenting with getting the yeast going first in a sweet warm water mix… We will talk about that more in the coming weeks. But suffice tobsay, we are impressed with the latest results…

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