Baking Bread

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been adventuring into the wonderfully rewarding world of baking bread. There is something quite zen about baking bread. The effort that goes into kneading the dough until it is just right and then the magical chemistry that takes place while the yeast has a party eating up all the sugars and farting all that C02 making the dough rise.

The secret to getting inspired by bread making is simple… You need a simple fool-proof recipe to get yourself going and inspire you to try crazier and crazier things. Don’t be foolish and dive straight into something fancy because if it flops you might just lose interest.

Ok, foolproof recipe. I know it off by heart… (funny saying that… seems quite apt)

Jonathan’s No-Bread-Tin-Required White:

Ingredients:

  • 3 and a half cups of regular cake flour (basically flour)
  • 1 and a quarter cups of warm water.  (body temperature)
  • 1 table spoon of salt
  • 1 table spoon of sugar
  • 1 sachet (10grams) of yeast

Directions:

  1. Put the warm water in a small bowl.
  2. Add the yeast to the bowl, stir it up a bit.
  3. Put the flour, salt and sugar in a bigger mixing bowl. (you could use a pot if you wanted to)
  4. Add the yeast water to the flour, salt and sugar and mix it up as best you can with a fork in a minute. (This is to try and keep your hands relatively clean)
  5. Once it’s kinda mixed up start using your hands and mix it up some more until you have one big clump of dough.
  6. Next, sprinkle some flour on a counter top and start kneading the dough on the flour. The flour is to try and stop it from sticking.
  7. You’re looking for something about the same consistency as play-dough. It mustn’t be gooey or sticky.
  8. Depending on the flour and a whole myriad of weirdnesses, you might need to add some more flour or water to the dough to get it the right consistency BUT don’t be lazy. It might look too dry initially but once you knead the dough for a while it might end up seeming too wet.
  9. You should probably spend about 15 minutes in total kneading the dough. The best technique is to repeatedly fold the dough over on top of itself.
  10. Once you’ve got a nice big ball of dough, put some oil in a clean pot at least twice as big as the ball of dough you currently have and then put your piece of dough in the pot, making sure to cover the ball with a thin layer of oil.  You want the sides of the pot/bowl to have a thin layer of oil too so that the dough won’t stick to the sides of the pot when it rises.
  11. Cover it with a dish towel (if possible some cling-film too) and stick it in a warm place. On top of or near a hot water cylinder is awesome.  The dish towel is too keep out the light and keep in the heat.
  12. 60 minutes later it will have risen to almost it’s complete size. Without punching it around too much flip your ball over onto a slightly oiled baking tray. I like to put the tray on top of the bowl and flip them over together to try and minimise how much I beat up the dough. It will disappointingly collapse as a lot of the air escapes. Never fear.
  13. Leave the pot on top of the dough for another 20 minutes to give the dough a second chance at rising and then put the tray with your huge lump of dough in the oven on 200 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes. You’ll want it to be golden brown but not dark.
  14. Take it out, give it 2 minutes to cool and cut yourself a slice…
  15. Bread and butter is an awesome thing.
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9 thoughts on “Baking Bread

  1. Actually, just read my trusty Josephine Mill bread book and discovered that the “proper” way to activate the yeast is to put the sugar in the warm water with the yeast and let it “activate” for 10 minutes. I’ve done this in the past but it didn’t seem to make much difference. I will attempt it more empirically soon. French Loaf is up next 🙂

  2. Have you tried making bread with beer – different way of getting that fermenting with yeast thing going. Well thanks for the recipe. Summer is crawling closer in the UK and almost time for a braai (“BQ”). Nothing like a good bread with a braai – adding bacon or cheese, garlic and some herbs… origanum

  3. We used to eat home baked bread only for years and years before we moved to rye bread. We still make our own bread every now and then. We actually had this little machine to do it because it knee the dough every day does take some time unfortunately. But the taste is just so much better and it’s so much healthier too. You won’t believe what they throw into normal shop bread, no wonder it tastes shit! Although, I’m not so sure about the white flour there as that’s highly refined and has been linked to colon issues.

  4. I love fresh bread and tend to agree with your other readers about the quality. I also have tried to put the yeast and sugar in warm water.It seemed to not work well here in South Carolina. I will try your recipe soon I hope. First I have to replace an element in my oven.

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