December 30, 2016

Bread making is not just good financial sense but saves dough.

OK that was a terrible pun and I apologise. However I have been making bread for many years and thought I should include something here to promote the fact that it is something financially and ecologically sound.

I won’t put too many recipes up here as there are masses of all flavours and you can just google ‘bread recipe’ and pick the one you like. But what I would like to do is put some hints from my own experience.

Firstly, here is a very basic white bread  recipe:

Ciabatta rolls or one large loaf for cutting.

Ingredients:

1 package (1/4 ounce, 2-1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast

One and a half  cups warm water (blood heat) (you may not use it all)

3 cups unbleached flour or all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil tipped into the warm water and a bit more for greasing.

cornmeal for dusting

Method:

Throw it all in a large bowl,  mix it in with your hand or a wooden spoon and then knead it for at least ten minutes.  Tip it out onto a dusted with flour bench and keep that up until the dough is a smooth as a baby’s bottom and develops popping air bubbles (again, like that baby)…

Oil your mixing bowl and put the dough back, cover with a clean tea towel,  and either:

Sit it in the sink which is half full of warm water (not hot)

Put it out in the sun

Put it on the hearth near the fireplace

Too much heat will kill the yeast and too little will not activate it.

Go and do the ironing and when you come back, the bread will have filled the bowl.

Punch it down (ahhhhh) and cut it with a very sharp knife into rolls and slash the tops.  Place on an oiled baking sheet.

OR

Place into an oiled bread tin. Or just on a cookie sheet as a lump if you’re not fussy about the shape.

Put a bowl of water in the bottom of the oven for crisp crust.

Let it rise again (this stage is called ‘proving) for just 20 minutes.  Too long and you will need to punch it down and re-prove.

Then when it has filled the tin, place in a mod-hot (200 degrees C) oven for 30 minutes. If it sounds hollow when you hit it with your knuckles it is cooked. Eat!

Some hints:

  1. Don’t skimp on the kneading even if you are using no-knead flour.  The yeast loves it.
  2. Water temperature is important.
  3. If you put in too much water it will be sticky so add more flour and a pinch more yeast.
  4. The sugar is there to activate the yeast so don’t leave it out.
  5. Keep your flour fresh (in the fridge if necessary)
  6. Yeast will keep forever in the freezer.
  7. Improver can be added to speed up the process – this is soy flour and powdered milk. It seems to keep the bread fresher longer. However check here for more information. Be sure that you are not allergic to any of the chemicals which may be in the commercial mixes.
  8. I get my best results by having a long first rise (this can even be overnight in the fridge) and a short proving time.
  9. Sunshine is a great dough riser.
  10. The kneading is an excellent tension reliever.  If you don’t want to do it, teach your kids. Good exercise and calming!
  11. Once you have the ‘feel’ of good bread you can be adventurous and add things: pumpkin seeds, vegetables, olives, herbs etc..
  12. Try making croissants and brioches.  Fun!  Slow food.
  13. Pumpernickel is great too.  But make sure your flour is fresh.  Stale flour is the reason most bread fails.

 

Pumpernickel Recipe:

  • 2 pkts yeast
  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tbspn sugar
  • 1 tbspn salt
  • 4 tbspns dark molasses
  • 1 cup mashed spuds (no cream, salt just plain)
  • 7 cups rye flour
  • ½ cup polenta or cornmeal
  • 2 cups wholemeal flour and a bit for the board.

Mix this all together and knead vigorously for 30 minutes to distribute the yeast through that hard flour if you can!  Cover and rise for 90 minutes in a draft free place.  Punch down and let it rise once more and repeat that procedure.

Punch down again and place into tins and prove as before.

This makes 2 large loaves.

Cook at 200 degrees for 75 minutes.

If you want small loaves for savouries reduce the cooking time to 30 minutes.

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