Monday, 9 May 2011

Hmm bread ... ...

Since our journey into being more self sufficient we have been making our own bread (for over a year now) and whilst people making their own bread isn't revolutionary not enough people do it.

You simply can't beat home made bread, I used to travel past a bakery years ago on my way to work and the smell was intoxicating, there's just something about the way bread smells when it's cooking, it's great.

For a while we used our bread maker and we were perfectly happy with the bread that came out of it, and it is a very handy gadget, chuck your ingredients in push a button or two and bread comes out, what could be simpler ? and to be honest it's not difficult to make bread by hand using an oven.

So why aren't more people doing it ? when I do the weekly shop I'm amazed at the amount of people buying loaves of bread, of all different kinds, and some can be quite pricey considering, I get funny looks when I'm in the baking isle grabbing packets of yeast and bread flour, I find this odd.

Anyway of late we've been experimenting with flat breads, these are very nice and you can add loads of different stuff to them for more flavour, like cheese or herbs or both :-)

I started to wonder what else you could do with the recipe, and it seems that by sticking to a set of basic ingredients you can do a lot (this may not be news to some people) so here's the recipe we've been using for the last few months to make all our bread.

Firstly here's a loaf I made tonight -

Just a plain white loaf.
The ingredients consist of 3 things, at least for a loaf like the one above.

Ingredients :

500grams of bread flour (we've been using white, but brown should be okay)

1 packet (7grams) of fast acting yeast, you can get this in boxes of 8 sachets.

250ml - 300ml of warm water (I normally use 275ml)

And that's it for a plain loaf, obviously if you want something a little more interesting you'll need extra stuff, but I'll go into that later.

The method is easy, but might make your hands ache a little.

Method : 

First put your oven on at 200 degrees (gas mark 5 I think ?)

Weigh the flour into a mixing bowl, then add the yeast and give it a mix.

Next add the water (make sure it's warm, but not hot )

Now you should probably mix the water in a little at a time, but I just chuck it all in at once.

Mix until it all starts to come together, then get your hands in and make sure it's all mixed together. Please wash your hands :-)

Now all you have to do is the kneading part, turn the contents of the bowl out onto your work top and start kneading, if it gets a little sticky sprinkle a little more flour onto the dough.

You'll need to keep going with the kneading for about ten minutes, but rather than just push it about tear the dough, grab it with both hands and tear it, then stick it back together, do this a few times whilst your kneading the dough, it does make a difference to the bread (well I think it does)

Once you've finished kneading it form it into a shape, for a flat bread you can flatten it out with a rolling pin, or you can just make it into a ball shape and slice the top like I did for the loaf in the picture above.

Place the bread onto a floured baking tray and cover with cling film, it's best to either spray the cling film with a little oil, or brush some on, so that it doesn't stick to the bread (a damp tea towel should also be okay)

Proving the bread will take about an hour, depending in where you put it, you can place it somewhere warm for an hour, what we do is put it under the grill, we have an oven with a separate grill, so when we want bread we put the oven on at 200 degrees and it heats the grill up a little, which as it turns out is really good for proving bread :-)

You can also place the bread in front of your oven, the bread should double in size (perhaps a little more depending on how long you leave it and how warm it's been) we find we only need to prove ours for 30 - 40 minutes using our grill.

Once it's proved you can then cook it (make sure you remove any coverings) this should take between 15 - 25minutes, but this may vary depending on your oven, or if it looks ready you can take it out and give it a tap, if it sounds kind of hollow it's probably done.

And you should end up with something like this -  

Brushed with a little olive oil.
That's about as difficult as it gets, now if you want to mess about with the recipe you can, it seems pretty easy to add extras without having to alter the recipe, for example if you want a cheesy bread you can knead some grated cheese into the dough, then sprinkle some on top of the bread before baking, you could also add some herbs in the same way.

I have also found that by mixing in a little caster sugar (normal sugar would do just as well) and some raisins you can make a nice fruit type loaf, you can also split the dough and make two smaller loaves, we do this from time to time, making a small raisin loaf and a small cheesy loaf.

Tesco, the yeast about the same, you get 8 sachets of yeast in a box, so for less than £1.50 you can make about 3 or 4 loaves, which is less than 50p a loaf.

Here is the original recipe, as it was intended, I would recommend making this as well, it's great bread.

Chorizo and thyme fougasse ---> bread recipe 

Go forth and bake fellow human :-) 

Thanks for reading.


  1. So true, no comparison to the shop bought styrofoam loaves. Looks delicious!

  2. Thanks it tasted pretty good too ;-)

    I'm still working on the rising aspect of bread, we need to get a larger tin, but these flat type bread are quick and easy to make, always good with hungry kids.