Bread is, and always will be, something that I love to cook.  It does look daunting at first, especially due to the length of time that it takes, however, the bulk of that time you can put up your feet, have a glass of wine, or chase around after your children.   The best thing about bread is that the yeast is doing all of the hard work whilst you do something else.

 This rather funny looking thing is the yeast.  It can do all sorts of two magical things; make bread, or alcohol. You can get it in a packet, or you can get the fresh variety, usually I use the dried variety because it is quite content to just sit in a cupboard, the fresh variety is alive, so it only keeps for a few days in the fridge.  The advantage of fresh yeast however is that it doesn’t cost you a penny.  I popped into the store today to pick some up, headed over to the bakery section, and they just gave it to me when I asked if they had any.  It costs the stores 10p for a kilogram of fresh yeast, so a lot of them are happy to just give it away.

This was the first time I made this particular bread recipe, I had the recipe sent to me via twitter thanks to Lisa.  Here is the link to the recipe on the BBC website. (Links open in a new tab/window.)

Fresh Baked Bread

Serves: 3 small loaves of bread

Preparation time: 1-2 hours

Cooking time: 30 minutes to an hour

Ingredients:

  • 1Kg Strong (bread) white flour
  • 1pt water, room temperature
  • 20g fresh yeast
  • 15g salt
  • oil, for greasing
  • small dish of salted water

Method

  1. In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix together the flour, the salt, the water and the yeast until it all comes together.
  2. Tip the mixture out onto a floured surface and knead for about ten minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. When I’m kneading the bread, I like to oil up my hands before I start as this stops that horrible problem of having dough stick all over you. When kneading the bread, always use the heel of your hand to push the dough away from you, then fold it make onto itself, turn it slightly, and then repeat over and over.  You can’t be too hard on it here, you’re trying to soften up the gluten so that your bread will rise. Pretend it’s the face of someone you’re not to keen on, and you’re going to get it right.
  3. Turn the oven on as low as it will go for a minute or two then turn it off, place the bread into a mixing bowl, or a large pan, and cover with a clean damp tea towel or some cling film.  Leave in the oven for an hour, or until it has doubled in size.  Gently heating your oven to prove the bread in means that the yeast is warm enough to get to work, I often find my kitchen isn’t warm enough for the yeast, this way, I don’t have to sit around for hours waiting for it to prove.
  4. When the bread has proved, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a little to knock let out the air, divide into three equal sized amounts, and shape into rough loaves.
  5. Oil up a large baking tray, and sprinkle with flour. Transfer your loaves onto the floured baking tray and lightly score the top with a sharp knife.
  6. Lightly brush over the loaves with the salt water, you don’t want to soak the bread, it just wants to be a little moist.  Sprinkle over a little flour. Pop them back into the oven, turn in it on low again for another minute or two, and leave the bread to prove again.  This should only take about 15-30 minutes.
  7. Take your loaves out of the oven, and heat your oven up to 240C. Pop the loaves into the oven and cook for 8 minutes.
  8. Open the door, and cook for another two minutes.
  9. Turn the oven down to 190C and bake for another 30 minutes until the loaves are a lovely golden brown colour.  you can check if your bread is cooked by turning it over and tapping it on the bottom, it should make a hollow noise when you do this.
  10. Transfer the cooked loaves onto a wire rack to cool.
Enjoy with a nice home made soup, a hearty stew, make into your favourite sandwich,have it warm lathered in butter with a generous helping of cheese, or just enjoy it warm with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Bread, really is one of the greatest most enjoyable things that you will ever make. This recipe is amazingly easy, and it tastes fantastic.  The bread is light and soft, with crust that blends gently into the middle to give a soft crust with a little bit of a bite.

Until next time,
Keep Calm, and Cook On
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