Experimentation is the name of the game
Also to finally settle on a favourite bread I experimented for ten years with bread-baking before I found the one I’m going to share with you here. (See also my favourite Vital Vinaigrette.)
(On the side…) As far as experimenting goes, the same goes for learning how to write a blog in WordPress: sometimes it takes a while before you find what you need or like best. What a daunting affair at first, even after all those years of working with PC’s. Now I want to do my business website in WebMatrix but I’m not much of a programmer. Don’t have the patience for it. Was quite happy with Frontpage, but can’t use that anymore, and with Windows 7 Home Premium Spanish, WebMatrix only installs in Spanish because WebPI does not accept my English setting! Tried forums, the lot, no luck so far. To tackle something you don’t like, in a language you don’t master, aaarrrgh!
So what do I do instead of pulling out my hair? I bake bread, hoping that after that accomplishment I’ll feel competent enough, albeit briefly, to tackle the challenge once more. Glorious, homemade bread. I never eat anything else anymore. Have you seen that long list of unpronounceable ingredients on factory bread labels? Those are mainly chemicals. Were our bodies made to digest chemicals? Not that kind. As a supertaster I am particularly fussy.
Only 3 minutes of kneading!
The beauty of this dough is that it doesn’t need much kneading. Just a couple of minutes until it’s smooth. The more you knead it, the more gluten it releases in any case.
Apologies for the quality of the pictures. My camera fell a while ago and now only provides pics with a pink hue! Other than the sesame seed bread, all the bread pics were taken with a mobile phone. But I hope you’ll also think that it’s the thought that counts. It’s not a photography blog. It’s not a food blog. I can get away with murder, yes?
This is what you’ll be making
Or two large loaves as on top.
The original recipe (adapted by me here) comes from a Kitchenaid bread machine recipe book. It’s a cold dough recipe and takes five hours in the machine to prepare. Then you shape it, let it rise and bake it. But it’s also very easy to make by hand, and you don’t have to be that proactive!
- large bowl
- large wooden spoon
- measuring jug
- measuring spoons
- plastic wrap
- dough knife (optional)
- pastry brush (ideally silicon)
- rolling pin (optional)
- paper kitchen towels
- baking tray lined with baking paper
- aluminium foil
- draught-free place to let the dough rise
See these two columns? I’m so proud of myself – got into html today: googled ‘two columns in wordpress,’ et voilà, piece of bread. 🙂
- 500 ml (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 625 ml (2½ cups) spelt flour (125 ml (½ cup) of this could also be wholewheat or rye)
- 125 ml (½ cup) sunflower seeds (optional), more of these for sprinkling (or sesame seeds for sprinkling)
- 1¾ tsp seasalt
- 14 g (½ oz) instant yeast, about 1 Tblsp
- 1 Tblsp brown sugar (or honey, molasses)
- 375 – 400 ml (1½ cup – 1½ cup + 2 Tblsp) lukewarm water – a little warmer than body temperature. Boil water and add a little to cold water in measuring jug until you have the right temperature and quantity.
- 20 ml (4 tsp) olive oil
- Mix dry ingredients in bowl and mix well with hand whisk (add honey or molasses after this if you replace sugar)
- Pour the water (but not all) and mix using the wooden spoon; when it begins to be absorbed, add oil and mix well;
if you can manage, use only one hand to start kneading until it’s well mixed (Martha always told us to keep one hand free for the telephone!)
- If the flour cannot all be absorbed, add a little more water
- Oil a clean, smooth counter and drop the dough (scraping any remaining pieces from the bowl with it); now lightly oil the bowl – never mind that it’s not completely clean
TIP: While kneading, the dough should be slightly sticky, but not cling to your hands, nor should it be so dry that you cannot knead the cracks out of it. Too wet: sprinkle a little more flour on the dough and work this in; too dry: add a little more water but very little at a time because it gets too wet very quickly.
- Knead well for just a few minutes until the dough is smooth
- Drop into oiled bowl, turn around, and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap; place in comfortably warm, draught-free space for about 1½ hours (dough doubles in size)
- Drop dough onto clean, lightly oiled counter and divide into four equal parts (can use a scale)
- Roll out one part with roller or press with hands into rectangular shape; gently roll up the dough, but not too tightly
- Run a barely wet finger (lukewarm water) along the outer edge and pinch the seam close; place on baking paper, seam down
- Repeat for remaining three – I forgot it here but at this point you can give a couple of diagonal slashes, not too deep, about 1¼cm (½”) deep
- Lightly brush dough, one at a time, with lukewarm water and sprinkle with sunflower or sesame seeds
- Cover with lightly oiled plastic; place in comfortably warm, draught-free space for about 45 minutes – last 10 minutes, preheat oven on 200ºC (425ºF)
Ready to bake at last!
- For the small loaves, bake a total of 25 minutes, for the large ones, 35 to 40 minutes – exact time varies per oven
- The last 10 to 15 minutes you may need to cover them with foil if you see that the tops/seeds are browning too much
- Remove, let cool on a rack.
Mixed lettuce with vinaigrette, homemade bread topped with grilled cheese, chili-tomato chutney and un verre de vin de Bourgogne!