When I think Bread making i think "time consuming". Too much bother when life is so busy. Why on earth would you make your own bread - deal with the highs and lows of getting a good finished product - when you can nick down to the local high street and pick up a loaf.
I remember glimpses of my Mum cooking bread while she was at home with us - the smell - the taste. It was enough to create some profound memories and a love for home made bread. However I did understand that the process was indeed very time consuming. What I saw as time consuming was not quite correct. Yes indeed it does take along time to make bread but time consuming it is not. The process can take all day but the personal time spent with and on the bread would be no longer than 30mins in total. Unfortunately the practicality of the working person in making bread would make it difficult as some of that time spent on the needs to happen hours apart.
Being in my position of unemployment it seems sensible that I try my hand at bread making - PLUS I really wanted the calico bag the mix came in for a future project. To get to use that bag meant that I would need to use all 10 kg of that flour...so bread it must be.
My first attempt was amazing - great consistency - light & fluffy - amazing taste. It seems I was born for bread making. I used this recipe and I highly recommend using this one for first time makers. If I can do it - so can you. This is not my recipe but I feel there are some alterations that will make a difference, my alterations in italics. This recipe makes too much bread for our family so I now half the recipe and it makes a lovely loaf:
You will need:
- Yeast - 2 Tbsp
- Hot-ish* water - 2 cups (hot as you can from out of the tap)
- Bread flour - 5 cups total, 2 for the sponge and 3 for later. (NOT regular flour)
- Sugar - 2 Tbsp.
- Salt - 2 tsp.
- Oil - 2 Tbsp.
- 3 loaf pans (2 loaf pans)
- Quick-read thermometer
- Oven pre-heated to 375 (180 C)
Start by mixing the hot water and the flour. Then, add 2 Tbsp. sugar, 2 Tbsp. oil, 2 Tbsp. yeast, and 2 tsp. salt. Let this sit for about 8 or 10 minutes. Assuming your water was hot enough, it should be nice and bubbly.
Now you need to add about 3 more cups of flour. I added a little less this time, it really depends on the humidity and how exact your measurements were in the sponge step.
Once it gets too tough to stir, flip it onto a clean floured surface. Now, knead away, adding flour as you do so. Knead the dough for 8 or 9 minutes. As my Mother says, it should be the texture of your earlobe when it's done kneading.
When you finish this part put it back in the bowl and cover it with a slightly damp towel.
Punch the dough down (Yes, punch it. Beat the heck out of it. Just don't make a mess), then divide it into 3 (2) parts. Spray the pans and put the dough in. Let it rise again in the pans (covered) until it (is doubled again).
Let the dough rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes to an hour. the dough should be about doubled in size by the time it's finished.
Preheat your oven to 375 F (180 C in a fan forced oven) and put the loaves in.
Bake them for about 25 minutes. Your quick read thermometer should read between 180 and 190 degrees. Pull the loaves out and place them on their sides on a rack, after a few seconds slide them out of the pans and onto the rack. Let them cool.
I have also attempted to do my own sour dough starter. I got the recipe from here but found it hard to find a recipe in which you actually used the starter. I figured that because the starter is "catching" yeasts and performing the fermentation process then the starter should be added to a usual bread mix as the yeast component. My first sour dough was "fine" (picture below) - a bit heavy perhaps and took F.O.R.E.V.E.R to rise and therefore make. The next sour dough I added back a bit of bakers yeast to speed the process up, but it still took a long time. I am currently doing a loaf that has the sour dough starter added but put in the "normal" amount of yeast in it, this time it came out beautiful - like the first loaf but minus a lot of the extra yeasty taste. I think I have found my forever recipe.
They are right though - bread making is no exact science.