15 February 2008

Homemade bread

There are few edible things in the world as delightful as freshly baked bread. However, most people don't do it. They think it is horribly difficult or a lot of bother.

If you belong to either category, please enjoy the below. And please do not think that you need to have freshly starched linens or newly picked flowers for it to be delightful. It tastes great on any old plate you have in the house. The rest is just glamour.

If you have trouble with my metric measurements, here's an easy-to-use converter.

You will need :
A baking-form. Mine is 10 x 10 x 30 centimeters.
A bowl for preparing the dough
A ladle or spoon of sorts, likewise for the preparation of the dough.
A dough-scraper to get dough out of bowl.
Some sort of grease (oil, margerine, butter) to grease your baking-form ... unless you have professional bakingforms with a silicone layer inside. Even a teflon- or "slip-easy" forms really should be greased for this recipe. Or use baking-paper :-)
Do not ask me how I know !

When baking bread it is not necessary to take measurements as absolutes ! Baking bread is not a question of getting every measurement down pat to the last milligram. It is an acquired skill which grows with every bread you bake. As you get to know your oven, your tools and your tastes, you can tweak this recipe endlessly, using different grains or seeds, adding spices, or making it as a completely plain white bread.

The bread.
*4 deciliters of milk, fresh from the fridge. Use low-fat if you're afraid of the calories.
*2 deciliters of boiling water.

The general idea here is, to make the fluid approximately body-temperature. Use your pinky-finger to test. If it feels hot, add a bit more milk, if it feels cold, add a bit more boiling water. If you get waaaay more than 6 deciliters, pour out the surplus.

*Add yeast.

Oh, dear. In this country we use live yeast, so I would say "half a packet", which is approximately 25 grams. My guess is, you would need 2-3 teaspoons of dry yeast. HOWever, if you "under yeast" a dough, it is just a question of letting it raise a little longer. "Over yeasting" however, can make a bread taste ... yeasty.

*1 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon sugar
*A dollop of neutral-tasting oil (or butter, or margerine).

Yes. Very precise again. Anywhere from 2-5 tablespoons. You need something, or your bread will grow dry too soon.

*Half a kilo (approximately a pound) of wholemealwheat-flour. Any sort is good. The one i usually pick up is ground and not wholegrain, but wholegrain works too.
*Add ordinary wheat-flour until the concoction has approximately the texture of thick (to very thick) porridge. It's ok if it's one sticky lump, but it should not be fluid or in danger of dripping.

*Put the dough in the form.
*Put the form in the cold (!) oven
*Turn the heat to 50-75 centigrades (very low)
*Let stand for anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on how much yeast you put in the dough. It should raise to just below the edge of the baking-form or roughly into double size.
*Turn up the heat to 175-200 centigrades
*Bake for 45 minutes

*Turn off oven.
*Take bread out of oven.
*Take bread out of form.
*Put bread back into the oven, preferably on a rack, while it cools ! to get a wee bit of crust on the sides that were hidden in the form while baking.

*Serve while still slightly warm, just with butter. Or, if you really must, with some sort of GOOD jam or your favourite cheese.
Tastes wonderful with soup too :-)

The real worktime on this one is less than 10 minutes, and once you have baked it a couple of times, the real worktime is closer to 3-5 minutes. Much faster than going to the supermarket or mall. And much tastier too :-)

Oh, and if you do not finish it immediately, wrap in a clean dish-cloth or something like that. Do NOT put it in the fridge. Putting wheat-bread in the fridge makes it hard. Much harder, and much less edible compared to out of the fridge. When the bread has cooled completely, you can put it in a plastic-bag for storing it ... but really ... eat it while its fresh and good :-)


Anonymous said...

Delicious fresh homemade bread! I have made bread daily for the children for long stretches at a time over the years. I would let the beard rise and punch it down and give it a good kneading and then rise it again for baking. I have even tried it in one of those machines and it worked well...love that fresh hot bread....

Jacqui's Quilts said...

Thanks so much for the reminder that I have to bake bread today...I was about to sneak up to my sewing room LOL after reading a couple favourite blogs with my morning coffee. I have been getting back into baking all the bread we eat since October and am loving it. I use my breadmaker to make the dough, then give it a second rising in my new stone loaf pan and then bake it in the oven. It doesn't take very long and it's soooo good!

So, off to get the dough going and THEN to my sewing room :-).

Jacqui in Canada