I have made bread for my own family for nearly 20 years, with the exception of the odd week off during that time. The times when I have bought bread there has been a collective outcry so it was never much of a break for me after all!
I use a pretty standard recipe which my great aunt passed on to me. She also made her own daily bread. I always use Doves farm organic flour, and the Doves quick yeast. Bread is really quick to make but it takes time to let it prove, etc. BUT you can do other things while this is going on.... like knitting, drinking tea....
A big bowl
2 spoons, a tablespoon and a teaspoon.
A clean tea cloth
1 Lb wholemeal strong bread flour
2 Lb white strong bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 teaspoons Doves quick yeast
1 tablespoon oil (vegetable, sunflower, olive, it wont matter!)
1 1/2 pints of warm water
Biggest MOST important ingredient is TIME!
Find a big bowl and place all of the dry ingredients above into the bowl. Mix them all up with your hand or a tablespoon. I use a tablespoon to do my mixing because it just turns into a messy mash all over my fingers else!
Add the oil and the water. Using the spoon start working in the water, turning the mix and lifting up the dry flour from underneath. When it seems to nearly all together, tip it all out onto your table and knead it (this isnt hard, just squish and squash and generally pull it about). This miraculously blends in all of that seemingly spare flour. I dont ever do the usual 10 minutes that cookery books suggest, about 2 minutes usually. You will get to feel the texture change as you knead. It goes from stiff to, and this is the best way I can describe it, to the same texture as a babies cheek when you kiss them! Sort of plump and soft!!!
I prove my bread before putting it into the tins. This double rising really does make a huge difference to the texture of your bread so if you can be bothered, do! Just plonk that big ball of kneaded dough back into the mixing bowl, leave it somewhere warmish covered with a clean tea towel.
Its going to double in size, just like this beautiful batch above!
Seems criminal but next you need to knock it all back down! Pop it back on your table, knock the stuffing out of it, divide it into 3 (or whatever size you want your loaves to be) and pop it into your greased 2 Lb bread tins to complete its last rising before cooking.
When your bread is up and looking over the tops of the tins, place it into a preheated oven. As hot as you can get it! Mine goes up to 220 degrees. Leave it for 35 minutes. The bottom should sound hollow when tapped at the end of this time.
As you eat, realise that once 'they've' tasted it, they will demand it again, and again, and bread making will become a simple and satisfiying part of your existence.....
Why is making your own bread a 'green' option?
- Packaging - think of how many plastic bread bags get thrown out in average household each year! If a family of 5 eat a loaf a day thats 365 bags a year, extend this to say 10 families in a street, it rises to 3650 a year, thats only for 10 families! How many million people live in this country? Think of the saving.
- Accountability - you know exactly what went into it, and where it came from.
- If you buy a Britsh produced flour you will be cutting down on food miles for imported grain and supporting our food producers, the farmers. I buy DOVES organic flour. I also use the DOVES quick yeast with excellent results.
- Bread used to be our 'national dish' coupled with a smidge of butter and a dollop of jam. It is far more healthy than alot of the more modern, convenient alternatives. Bring back the British afternoon tea I say!!!!
If you have any suggestions, additional recipes, reasons why you make bread, please post your comments below!