I’ve never been able to make bread. It seems like the simplest thing in the entire world and yet I have never been able to master it. Every few years I try again and out of the oven comes a rock hard brick of bread. I’ve toyed with the idea of a bread maker but always figured that was cheating but I did start trying again with a packet of bread mix.
I bought my bread mix from Aldi. They have a wide range if you go in store of little packets of mixes to make different specialities of bread from. I picked a seeded loaf but you can pick any or none and just use strong white flour.
After lots of reading on kneading and gluten I think the best method is to really stretch the dough with a wooden spoon. I think this has the same effect as significant kneading and works for me (finally)!
- 500g strong white flour (or equivalent mix)
- 2 tsp salt
- 7g sachet fast-action yeast or a packet
- 3 tbsp olive oil and some for oiling the tin
- 300ml water
- 1 tsp sugar
- Bread tin (makes all the difference)
- Get a clean tea towel ready slightly dampened
- Cling film
- 5ml milk or beaten egg to glaze
- First mix the yeast in a little warm water. Add a tiny tsp of sugar and mix thoroughly. I think the sugar is what the yeast eats and the warmth starts to activate it
- Oil using olive oil the tin so the mix won’t stick
- Mix the bread mix or flour with the water (make sure it’s slightly warm) and the olive oil. Choose a bowl double the size of your mix to allow it space to rise
- Stir with a wooden spoon for 5 minutes to keep your hands away from the sticky mess initially and to really stretch the mixture (apparently the gluten in the flour which is what makes it rise). Keep pulling the mixture up and away to create strands and drop them back down again
- I like to then put a bit of clingfilm on the top and then the damp tea towel or the risen dough sticks to the tea towel?!! Don’t completely seal the top though as you need air to get in. I then put my bowl on top of a fairly low heat radiator or on top of the oven
- Set the oven to 180 degrees and allow it to warm slowly
- After 20 minutes check the dough. It should have risen a little so give it another stir and let it rise again for a further 20 minute
- Give it another stir and transfer it to your tin shaping it into a rough loaf shape
- Glaze the top with a little milk or egg wash
- Move to the oven to bake for circa 20-30 minutes but keep an eye on it. If it starts to brown too early cover with foil or lower the heat 10 or so degrees
- Once baked leave in the tin to cool for 10 minutes from it recedes from the sides and can be removed easier
You can then try different mixtures or adding this to the top of your bread such as seeds or in your bread to make more fun.