Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published December 3rd 2010
A famous person in cookery once said that you'll always regret your first loaf. If it's any good you and your family will be spoiled for the bakers ever after. Bread is such a staple, basic food stuff – so why oh why is it so unbelievably tempting that estate agents counsel filling your house with wafts of baking bread to make it more attractive to potential buyers? Well for starters, good bread is comforting. It's also filling and more-ish. And not terribly unhealthy - if you can moderate your urges - and it goes well with almost everything else. So it's pretty much a wonder of the food world. Surely no sane person dislikes bread!
So why else would you regret baking your first loaf if bread is all those things? Well, bread has a reputation for taking a while to make, what with all that resting and kneading, and of being quite a lot of work for something that often gets polished off all in one sitting. But neither of those things needs to be true. And the myths about needing a bread maker to do it justice are unfounded as well. All you need to bake a loaf of this 'food of the gods' at home is a bread tin, an oven set to 220C and these ingredients:
50g strong white flour 2 tsp easy blend yeast Half a 500mg vitamin C tablet, crushed 2 tsp salt 3 tsp brown sugar 400ml warm water 50g melted butter
There are all sorts of modes of thinking on the duration of the resting and the kneading – some people say the longer the better, some people say why bother, but this recipe is one that has proven reliable – which is what's most important when it comes to making something you want to make fairly regularly.
Step 1: In a large bowl roughly sift in both types of flour, the yeast, salt, sugar and crushed up half a vitamin tablet (which is there as an antidote to some of the flavourful side effects of the chemical reaction that happens with the yeast if you were curious – bread making is quite scientific!). Then stir in 300mls of water before adding the butter mid stir. Now it's dough, which should be soft and a bit sticky before you put it back into its bowl, cover it with a cloth and let it have a little rest for ten minutes.
Step 2: Rub a bit of butter into the surface you're going to knead your dough on and then tip it out and give it a good, but brisk kneading – ten seconds of folding and pummelling should do the trick nicely, the point being to let lots of air get into the dough to help it rise. Then drop it back into its bowl and cover it with the cloth again for another ten minute 'break'.
Step 3: Repeat the kneading for ten and rest for ten cycle twice more so that the dough has been had three good and quick goings over. The last time you rest it give it an extra five minutes.
Step 4: Grease your baking tin. Take the now quite silky dough out of its bowl and flatten it out with the heels of your hands until it's a rectangle about the length of your tin, then roll it up tightly like a newspaper and place it into the tin with the edge of your roll along the bottom of it. Cover it and leave it to rest in a warm place until it's grown to at least double its own height. Depending on the weather this will be anywhere from one and a half to two and a half hours.
Step 5: Slide your tin into an oven pre-heated to 220C and bake for 20 minutes then turn the temperature down to 200C and bake for another 20 minutes. The trick to knowing it's done is that when you tap the now hard crust it will sound hollow. When it's done remove it from the tin onto a cooling rack – and restrain yourself. However good it may smell, it needs a little time to settle before you should tuck into it.
Step 6: Cut or break into and lash it with your favourite condiments – preferably one of your own home made jams.
If you prefer a white loaf try one of Delia's, and if you prefer a seeded loaf once you've perfected this recipe for yourself it should be able to support the seeds of your choice. Start small with poppy or sesame seeds first, before heading for seed mixes (this is a particularly nice mix though.).