For some time, I have wanted to try to make my own bread. I think there’s something quintessentially British about making your own bread; it makes me think of country kitchens, local bakeries and times gone by.
I don’t know why I haven’t tried to make my own bread before. I guess it was a time thing as I had heard it was rather time-consuming. The other issue was the kneading; kneading bread dough for a good 15-20minutes was not a particularly appealing thought although I am sure it can be therapeutic.
Last weekend, Mr MAC finally talked me into buying a mixer for the kitchen. I am doing more and more baking so it really made sense to make the purchase in order to give my fingers, wrists, elbows and shoulders a bit of a break! Anyone who knows me knows that I am extremely stubborn and do not give in easily therefore, it has taken him months to convince me to make the purchase! I can say that I am very thankful he did as in the 5 or so days I have had the mixer, it has already proved itself very useful, especially where making bread was concerned. Our mixer was very reasonable at £40. Although I would love a Kitchenaid, that purchase will have to wait for another day!!
On our way back from Lincolnshire, we purchased some tomato and onion bread flour from Spalding farm shop. We decided that, as we are growing our own rosemary, to add this to the mixture as well. Maud Foster Mill is a working windmill just outside Boston, Lincolnshire that was built in 1819. People are able to visit the mill to see it in operation and there are many local goods for sale in its gift shop.
The recipe we followed came from my latest cookbook to add to my already bulging collection, ‘The Great British Bake Off – How to Bake’. I already adore this book and it still hasn’t left our coffee table and been put away with all of its counterparts as I keep leafing through it! The book not only features top recipes and technical bakes from the series, it also has step by step picture guides and practical tips. I have a feeling I will be making many more recipes from this book in the not too distant future….
The Great British Bake Off’s White Loaf
700g strong white bread flour
2 tsp crushed sea salt flakes
1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
450ml lukewarm water
Put flour, salt and dried yeast into a mixing bowl, mix together and add a well in the centre. Pour the lukewarm water into the well.
Mix the flour into the water to make a soft dough. If the dough feels a bit too stiff and dry add a bit more water. If it’s too sticky, add a little bit more flour.
Using a food mixer and the dough hook attachment, mix for about 6 minutes. The dough should now be pliable, smooth and silky.
Put a damp teatowel over the mixing bowl and leave to rise until doubled in size (two hours at normal room temperature).
On a floured surface, punch down the dough with your knuckles to deflate it and knock our the air bubbles. Knead gently for one minute.
Divide the dough into two equal portions and shape each one into a ball.
Roll each ball around in your hands until small and neat. Put the dough on a floured baking sheet and cover with a damp tea towel. Allow to rest until doubled in size again which will take approximately an hour.
Preheat the oven to 230 degrees. Heat a baking sheet in the oven and put a roasting tin at the bottom of the oven.
Sprinkle each loaf with flour and slash with a knife. Transfer then onto the hot baking tray and out into the oven. Pour a cup of water into the roasting tin underneath to produce a burst of steam. Bake the loaves for 15 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped underneath.
Leave to cool on a wire rack
And out of the oven! I couldn’t believe how easy the bread was to make and how well it turned out. I would recommend the above recipe to anyone making bread for the first time – it certainly seems foolproof.
The bread was delicious. So delicious in fact, that I didn’t get to eat much of it at all…it all seemed to mysteriously disappear….!
I did manage to have a few slices of the bread with some cheese, red onion chutney and salad for a light lunch the next day. It really added a bit of something extra to an otherwise rather plain Ploughman’s lunch. I think I could really get into this bread making malarkey although I think my boyfriend now wants freshly baked bread on a daily basis…I think that may be taking things a bit too far!!