Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Our Daily Bread

Any Night of the Week

Since the arrival of the KitchenAid I've been very very good about making my own bread. Things started with the onion bread tart and since then I've done a bit of experimenting and I've found it really very easy to fit bread making in with all the other activities, including preparation for the Eggs Factor!

My first batch of bread was turned into rolls using the Patricia Wells' recipe which is the base of the tart. These would be brilliant dinner rolls, although they rose a bit too much to be successful for sandwiches (our main concern). I'd definitely revisit the recipe for anything where you need a solid bread base. I think it would even do for pizza base ...

At work, someone suggested digging out a Jamie Oliver bread recipe. As I don't actually own any Jamie Oliver books, I consulted google and hit upon this recipe. I have no idea how true to the original Jamie Oliver recipe this is, but I do know that it's worked for me as a good basic dough.

Start with 1 teaspoon of yeast, 1 tablespoon of honey and 12 fl oz of warm water (this is approximately 325mL). Combine these (don't forget, you can let your stand mixer do the work for you!), and leave for 5 or so minutes until the yeast starts to bubble up.

Mix in a generous teaspoon of salt and 500g of strong white bread flour and knead the dough until elastic. Put in a bowl (I rub olive oil over the dough first, to stop it sticking too badly), cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge over night.

When ready to make the bread, remove from the fridge, punch down the dough and knead it for about 10 minutes on a floured board. I find that just shaping it into a rough loaf shape and leaving it on a floured baking tray produces a loaf which is just right for making sandwiches. Leave the bread to rise until double (an hour or so) and then bake at 225C for 20-25 minutes or so.

Plain White Loaf: Dead Impressive Effort

You'll find the dough a little easier to handle if you bring it to room temperature, rather than kneading straight from the fridge. If you can be bothered to spray your oven with water just before putting in the bread (and then spraying every two minutes for the first 6 minutes of cooking) that will help you get a good crust. By roughly slashing the top of the dough before putting it in the oven you'll get quite a good look from your loaf, as well as giving it a little more room to rise while baking. And finally - don't tuck into your loaf of bread until it's cool! Sit back, let it finish off its cooking and enjoy the sound of the crust crackling away ...

But the real fun with bread making is experimenting. With this basic dough I've had great success with substituting stoneground wholemeal for half of the white flour, and also adding a teaspoon of carraway seeds to this basic white mix.

Flecked with carraway seeds for extra flavour: fantastic for ham sandwiches!

Because this has turned out to be such a foolproof, and QUICK, method, this is our standard mid-week way of producing bread. I'm hoping to do some more substantial experimenting in the near future ... but in the meantime, I'll be churning out variations on this basic theme.

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Blogger sk8geek said...

Hi Alex, I don't do food to (what seems to be) your exacting standards. Bread though is an interest. After playing around with various recipes from Bread Matters I found a delightfully simple and reliable method in a Guardian pull-out. Can't just see your email on the site, but happy to share it with you. Perhaps you'd email me - steven (at) sk8hx dot org dot uk - then I can send it on to you. :-)

7:40 pm  
Blogger From Bottle to Box said...

I love your blog. You've inspired me to pull out the KitchenAid. I've owned mine for 12 years and love it. I love Jamie Oliver as well. I'm going to try your bread and then I'm going to perfect a healthy pizza crust recipe for the kids. Can't wait to hear more about the EggFactor???

10:07 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Alex, if only computers could emit smells because the smell of baking bread in the house is one of the best smells in the world! I could almost imagine it as I read your piece.

10:00 am  
Blogger Alex said...

Steven - I'm about to send you an email as I'm keen to try out different recipes!

Bottle to box ... I've got a great Antonio Carluccio pizza base recipe which is here. It's healthy in that it's just yeast, flour, water & salt!

Thanks Colin - the smell is definitely one of the best things about home made bread! And the bread seems to keep on smelling delicious too!

9:04 pm  

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