The Bread Explosion
Gone are the days when you could only buy white sliced bread or maybe a pale brown loaf if you were lucky. Today there are lots of choices, and with so many varieties experimenting with di erent recipes can be a lot of fun.
Organic bread has also become increasingly popular over recent years. Aside from the fact that organic bread just tastes great its increase in popularity can also be attributed to the fact that many of us prefer not to eat pre-packed loaves containing arti cial additives, some of which may also have been sprayed with chemicals to slow down mould. Even factory-made bread promoted as ‘healthy’ may not be, so if this is important to you it is always worth checking that it does not contain improvers or arti cial additives and is made with organic grain.
Essential ingredients for making bread are our, water and salt. Use naturally occurring airborne yeasts, fresh baker’s yeast or dried yeast. There are two types of the latter, dried active and instant. The latter is easier as you literally just add it to the our while the former has to be activated with water and sugar.
To make the bread more interesting, vary the type of our that you use and add ingredients such as nuts, seeds and raisins. Dough needs a lot of muscle, kneading can be fun if you want an outlet for your aggressions but it can also be messy! If you have a good electric mixer the results can be as good as doing it by hand. Some people prefer to use a bread machine that does the kneading and proving (resting) for you but this calls for instant or fast acting yeast and the bread is unlikely to taste as delicious.
Practise makes perfect and this particularly relates to making bread. Start with an easy recipe:
• 1kg strong bread our (organic if preferred)
• 30g fresh yeast or 20g instant yeast
• 30g salt
• 650 ml. tepid water (make sure it is not too hot as the dough won’t rise)
Put the salt in your mixing bowl rst then add the our with the yeast on top. Pour on the water and start mixing or kneading immediately. The trick here is to make sure the salt doesn’t touch the yeast before you start mixing as the dough won’t rise if you do. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 -15 minutes.
Leave the dough to rise in a draught-free place until it doubles in size. Then de ate it by punching it down with your knuckles to let out the air and create an even texture.
Shape the dough either putting it in a tin or on a greased baking tray. You could shape it into what looks like a French baguette. It should then be left for an hour or so to ‘prove’ (rise).
To give it a golden look, glaze with a beaten egg that has had a pinch of salt added. Put in a hot oven, 200C for 20 – 25 minutes. You know the bread is ready if it sounds hollow when tapped underneath.
Nothing can beat the aroma and taste of freshly baked bread. Enjoy!
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