It’s been very busy at work, so I didn’t get much time to bake. Now that things are slowing down again, I’m getting back into the baking mood. I love baking my own bread, too bad I don’t always have the time to do so! But when I do, I make them in bulk and store a couple in the freezer so we can enjoy them for a long time. Wether you are making white bread or brown bread, the basic recipe is the same, the only difference is in the type of flour you use. Do check the ingredients when buying a flour mix: most of them contain a lot of suspicious E-numbers and additional elements to allow you to keep the flour very long. You don’t necessarily need all that anyway.
Another benefit of baking bread, is that you don’t need a lot of ingredients: you only need bread flour, a bit of butter (can be omitted if you prefer), yeast (fresh or dried), tap water and salt. This recipe is for 2 breads (it takes the same amount of time so why not make one extra for the freezer). Here’s how you do it:
Put 1 kg strong bread flour in a bowl (use white flour for white bread, multigrain for brown bread or a mix of both for a lighter brown bread) and make a well in the centre. In a separate bowl, mix 540 ml lukewarm water with a package of dried yeast (you need 11 g – if you prefer using fresh yeast, you need 25 g) until you get a foamy liquid. Add this to the flour and start mixing. You can do this in an electric mixer with a dough hook or you can do this by hand. When you get a sticky mix, add 15 g softened butter and 20 g salt (when using a brown dough mix, you may need less salt, about 15 g should do) and mix again. Resist the temptation to add more flour, you’ll see, it’s not necessary.
Now the kneading starts: you need to knead the dough for at least 15 minutes. Again you can do this by hand (it’s a great work-out, believe me, I also find it very soothing somehow) or use your electric mixer (still on my wish list). When using an electric mixer, make sure it’s on a slow speed so the dough can take up all the water and make enough gluten.
Now let the dough rise for 30 min at room temperature. If you cover it with a glass bowl, it will rise even better. Do not put the dough on the heating. After that first rise, knock the dough back and let it rise for another 10 min. If you want, you can add any other ingredients (grains, sunflower seeds…) and quickly knead a couple of times to incorporate them (try not to knead too much). Put the dough in a loaf tin (no need to butter or flour the tin, the bread will come out without issues) or on a baking sheet and allow to rise again for 40 min at room temperature.
Now you are ready to bake: preheat the oven to 200 C and put a cup of water on the bottom of the oven to create a bit of steam (this will prevent your bread from being too dry). Bake the bread for 30-35 min. When ready, take the bread out of the oven and tap of the bottom. When it sounds hollow, you know your bread is ready. Leave to cool. Enjoy!
I usually give you a song to listen to while enjoying your freshly baked dessert, but in this case, all the work is in the kneading, so you’ll need some moral support there. One song immediately came to mind: enjoy kneading while listening to Sweat by Snoop Dogg vs David Guetta!