For those of you who have been to this specific page before, you’ll notice it’s a little different. The first recipe that sat here was created during the peak of the zombie apocalypse that caused our baking aisle shelves to be empty and thusly this was a bread recipe using plain flour.
Thankfully now, bread flour is now again readily available so fuck that noise about the plain flour, let’s get back to basics.
The basic premise of bread making is all about gluten, and there’s more gluten in bread flour/strong flour which is why it’s such a big deal that we can get it again and use the shit out of it.
If you don’t learn how to bake your own bread did you really even experience 2020?
What you (k)need:
500g bread flour
325ml of lukewarm water
10g dry active or instant yeast
Pinch of sugar
What to do:
Start with your water in a jug, and add your sugar and yeast; stir it for a moment and leave it for about 10 minutes or so. The yeast will start bubbling on the surface which just means that the yeast is alive; if there’s no activity whatsoever then guess what? Doug’s dead and you’re up shit creek. Thanks for playing!
While your yeast is bubbling away, measure out your flour in a large bowl and stir the salt through. Once ready, pour your yeast mixture into the flour and start to stir together with a fork (or spoon, or whatever I don’t care) until you get yourself a shaggy dough.
Tip it out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll up your sleeves because bitch you’re about to kneed this little bugger into the next millennium.
YES, if you have a stand mixer and a dough hook, fine, use that and let it do it’s thing for about 5 minutes. But here’s the thing;
1)You.are.making.bread. You’re performing alchemy. It really pays to understand what changes the dough is going through and how it all feels so doing this by hand is the best way at least until you’ve done this a few times; by then you’ll know what to expect.
2) You could do with a workout to balance out the fact that you’re going to load this whole loaf of carby goodness into your gaping maw.
If you’re choosing to do this by hand, then knead it for about 10 minutes. Stretch it, push it, twist it (bop it!). If you want tips on exactly how to kneed then I recommend looking up some of Jamie Oliver’s videos because guess what? He knows shit. Personally, I like to stand with my front totally parallel to the counter and I spend some time engaging my core (no clue if that does anything, but I feel better for doing it).
After the kneading time is up place this dough baby into a lightly oiled bowl and cover it up. I like to cover with plastic wrap and use a rubber band to keep it all in place/keep any moisture in the bowl with the dough because that’ll help it in the proving stage. Leave it in a draft free place for about an hour, or until it’s doubled in size.
Next we get to perform one of the most satisfying things in all of baking; knocking back. We need to knock the air out of this huge fluffy flour pillow so simply punch the dough once in the bowl and watch it deflate. Feel strong. Fuck yeah.
Turn this dough out again and give another quick kneed just for a minute. Now you can shape this however you want; I like to use a loaf tin, so I form to fit the tin. If you don’t have a loaf tin, fret not because you can just make this into a free-form round loaf (but make sure you shape it/place it on the tray you’ll bake it on). Cover the dough again and leave for at least half an hour, or until it’s doubled in size once more.
Fun fact, if you don’t shape this loaf evenly and just assume things will all work out in the end, you might end up with a bread butt. That’s right, my loaf has an ass because I got lazy with the shaping.
At this point, preheat the oven to 355f. If you’ve created a free-form loaf you’ll want to score the dough to encourage it to grow in the right ways etc. For an oval-shape loaf, I like to take a sharp paring knife and do one long, slightly curved score from one end of the dough to the other. Make sure it’s at least 1cm deep. If you’ve used a loaf pan you definitely don’t need to do this because you’re already controlling the shape of it with the pan itself.
Now whap that fucker into the oven and don’t come back for half an hour. In my oven, the loaf needs more like 35 minutes because I like to get an even browning on the top. Once the time is up and your loaf is evenly browned, take it out of the oven and leave to cool for a few moments before transferring out of its tin and onto a cooling rack.
Okay you definitely will want to just dive right in but THAT IS A MISTAKE you will get burned, you will cry, it’s not worth it. Wait about an hour and you’ll find that the loaf is much easier to cut into and also, not scalding hot. Bonus.
You just made bread, mate.
Slice, do whatever to it, munch, enjoy.