Making Bread: for beginners

My kitchen is small and, let’s be honest, it suits me due to the fact that I don’t often cook. Im a picky and plain eater. Whipping up amazing creations in the kitchen is for other people. I prefer to grab the wine glass and watch those folk.

I also try not to eat much bread in my constant goal (which doesn’t always work) of trying to eat healthily.

So for some unknown reason, during my food shopping yesterday, I was looking at bread flower and yeast. It was a notion…about bread. I figured it isn’t actually that hard to do. I might be going slightly mad; not so mad that I forgot to pick up a good bottle of Malbec. But even better than the flower and yeast and whatever other stuff may be needed, Tesco had a seed mix pre-prepared. Since this seems much more fancy than an attempt at plain white or brown (I told you it was a notion), I decided to go for it. Bonus points for the instructions on the packet. More bonus points for the fact the packet isn’t plastic.

The Ingredients:

  • Bread mix (Tesco’s do it so I assume most places will be the same);
  • 25g of butter;
  • 320ml of warm water;
  • a little oil; and
  • a little flour;

Or if you want to do it all yourself then just supplement the bread mix with bread flower and fast acting yeast. There are loads of recipes on line for people who are more creative than me.

You will need also need: a mixing bowl, surface for kneading, scales (for the butter), measuring jug (for the water), a bit of strength, and a bread tin or oven tray.

Prep time is about 20 minutes for the dough, 2hrs for the proofing (knocking and second proof) and 30 minutes for the baking at 230 degrees Celsius

How Easy is Easy?

The easy bit

The instructions….pretty clear. Just tip in to a big bowl the mix and add 25g of butter then mix (fingers work here) till it looks like breadcrumbs.

Then add some (well 320ml to be specific) warm water . I figure (this might be totally wrong) that warm water from the tap is somehow not ok. Typing that out loud sounds wrong, and probably also a little mad, but I don’t even think I’ll google that. I just boiled the kettle and let the water sit till it got to the warm stage. In it went and I stirred it all together.

The bit more work bit

You will know when it is mixed enough. It is like a big rough messy dough ball and isn’t all stuck to the sides. Next step – the kneading. YouTube it if you need to know how. I am sure there is probably an accomplished technique but honestly why worry about that. It’s not like anyone needs to be an expert when giving these things a bash. Just tip your dough thingy onto a surface dusted with flower (I had some of this owing to recent pancake making). Then keep kneading for 10 minutes. This is the hard bit but very satisfying.

Once that is done put your dough thing into a clean and oiled bowl (I just used some extra virgin olive oil to coat the inside) and cover with clingfilm. Then stick somewhere warm for 1 1/2 hours for it to rise / ‘proof’.

Knocking it bit

I did google this bit. The instructions said to knock out the dough for 2-3 minutes then second proof for about 25 minutes. YouTube helped. Actually it was a small child YouTuber who clearly knew what he was doing (what has happened to the world!). But then there are the google arguments about double proofing. So I left it again for a bit to cover this off. To be fair the instructions said 30 minutes after the knocking. It leads to less air holes and a bit more of a fine grain…apparently.

Do you actually need a bread tin? (the question bit)

Maybe. But for this attempt I went rustic and just shoved my nicely shaped round bit of bread dough onto the oven tray. Pre-heated at 230 degrees (fan assisted) and 30 minutes is all it needed. I did the tap thing for the hollow sound on the base. Done. Bread!

The Results!

I know this is probably quite basic for most folk but for me it is a definite kitchen achievement. And it tastes good! It doesn’t look like my header image and I should probably try and hone my instagram type photo techniques (small steps) but it looks OK for a beginner. I might actually try and bake all my own bread. If anything this will definitely help my ‘not eating much bread’ aim; but it will make for tasty, satisfyingly home made bread when I do have it!

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