[tweetmeme]There are few things more pleasurable and simplistic in life than a large hunk of fresh bread, lightly toasted and served smothered with your favourite spread. This is particularly true if the bread has come to be at your hand; lovingly kneaded, allowed to prove and then baked to perfection.
This weekend after battling with two days of sickness (I’m getting better – thanks for your concern) I felt the urge to make some bread. A quick check of the dry-store and I was in business: Tipo-00, dried yeast, salt, honey and some seeds. Time to get baking.
I love making bread. Such a simple yet therapeutic task, once you have mastered the basic recipe, you’re only limited by your imagination. I have attached my basic recipe below, if you’re keen, why not give it a go.
My Basic Bread Recipe
1kg strong flour (I use tipo 00)
21g dried yeast (3 sachets)
30g honey (or sugar if you prefer)
625mls lukewarm water
1. Combine half of the water, yeast and honey in a small bowl and mix to combine. Allow to stand in a warm, draft free place for about 10 minutes, or until the water begins to froth.
2. Meanwhile, combine the flour and salt in your mixing bowl and fit the dough hook attachment. (if you don’t have a mixing bowl, simply spread the flour out onto a large, clean surface and make a well in the centre – you know the drill)
3. With the yeast working its magic, feeding off of the sugars in its warm-water environment, it’s time to add it to the flour. Turn your machine on low and gradually add the water until combined.
4. Once the water has been combined, check the consistency and add more flour or water as needed. You want the dough to be rather sticky to the touch, but not wet. Now, turn up the power and knead for about 5 or so minutes, until the dough is soft and elastic. (if you are kneading by hand, this may take up 10 or 15 minutes – god bless your enthusiasm).
5. Cover and leave to stand, or prove, for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in size. Once the dough has proved, knock it back and then form into your desired shape(s)*. Place your dough into a greased tin, cover and then allow to stand for another 45 minutes. This step is crucial and is what will give your bread its fluffy, delicate texture.
6. Nearly there. After your dough has proved for the second time, carefully place in a pre-heated oven at 225C and bake for 40 minutes or until golden. You’ll know it’s done after quick tap, if it sounds hollow, it’s done.
7. After removing the bread from the oven, place a cooling rack and wait at least an hour before serving.
*for a basic ciabatta recipe, add 6 tablespoons of oil after the first prove and knead through well.