I could write and write about bread. I love it very dearly- the taste, the smell, the act of making it. There is nothing more satisfying than making a good loaf, and nothing more infuriating than making a bad one. Hopefully this will be the first post of many dedicated to bread-for now it’s just a quickie to inspire you to make a better-than-average loaf in 24 hours. If you’d like to really get into bread then it’s worthwhile creating a “Mother”- mine is currently chilling at home-she was getting far too greedy so i left her down south. However, I’ll be dedicating an enormous post to “real” bread when i finish my wood-fired oven this Christmas….So for those of you without a “Mother”- here’s a cracking recipe for bread that tastes almost like a sourdough…..but without all the hassle.
The night before:
2oog organic strong white flour
25g organic rye flour
25g organic wholemeal flour
325 ml cold water
10g fresh yeast-normally available from bakers if you ask- if not use 5g dried
Mix this all until it’s a batter-like consistency. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a cool place overnight.
The Morning After:
To your (bubbly and risen) batter add 300g strong white flour and 10g sea salt. Mix roughly until it comes together- at this satge add more water if necessary (when making this yesterday i had to add 100 ml or so extra)-you are looking to incorporate all the flour with no dry patches. Then leave this roughly mixed lump on the side with the upturned bowl over it-this will allow the gluten to relax and absorb the water-thus increasing elasticity and making it easier for you to knead. Leave it here- make and drink a cup of tea. Come back to your bread, knead it vigorously until it is smooth and elastic feeling-it shouldn’t take long. Make sure it looks nicely wet-not too sticky-but not dry enough to leave your hands completely clean. Now put it in a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave it to rise until doubled in size. It’s difficult to put a time limit on this- it depends on the heat of your kitchen and a million other factors. I normally come to mine at about 9 in the morning, then it’s risen properly at about 12. Just make sure it’s double the size, billowy and bubbly. When this is achieved, take it out of the bowl and shape it on a floured surface- a ball is easiest-made by flattening the dough and then tucking it under itself. Put in a proving basket-or free form on a baking sheet. (You can fashion a rudimentary proving basket using a round mixing bowl lined with a flour-dusted smooth tea-towl.) Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to prove until doubled in size-again this depends on temp etc. If i shape mine at 12 it’s normally ready by about 3/4pm. Preheat the oven to the highest heat-220 if possible.Place it on a baking sheet dursted with flour. Spritz the top of your bread and the inside of the oven with water, cut some slits on the top of the loaf and bung it in the oven. Cook at highest heat for 20 mins, then turn down to 200 for another 20. When the crust is a good rich brown and the bottom sounds hollow to the tap-it’s done. Leave to cool before slicing-seriously now-I know it’s so tempting but you’ll damage the texture of the crumb. Yes I am extremely pedantic about bread-but it’s holy-don’t mess with it! Slather with shedloads of the best butter you can afford and enjoy!!!