Did you know that from the 16 to 22 April it’s National Bread Week? Now in its 12th year, Briton’s from all over the country dedicate this week to highlighting the wonderful versatility of this staple food.
Why not grab a slice of the action yourself (awful pun intended) by baking fresh bread in your very own oven?
Bread making is in no way an exact science, and this recipe may differ from those you see elsewhere. Traditionally it would be baked in a big brick oven, but the process varies depending on the person and their culture.
Some people may prefer to rely on automated bread-making machines, possibly because they believe that the task is too difficult, or maybe they just don’t know how to do it themselves. In actual fact baking bread within your own oven is a relatively easy task which requires minimal effort.
White Bread Recipe
The only equipment you’ll need is an oven, a cooking thermometer, a big metal bowl, a whisk, some towels and a couple of loaf pans. For your ingredients, you’ll need:
- 2 tablespoons of yeast
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 2 cups of water
- 5 cups of bread flour
Warm your water until it the thermometer reads around 40oC and mix it in the bowl with two cups of bread flour. Use a whisk to mix the two ingredients until they merge together and then add all the yeast, sugar, oil and salt. Keep mixing everything together and you should have a bubbly paste-like substance. Leave your bowl to sit for roughly 10 minutes and then mix in the rest of the bread flour.
Continue to stir the mix until it becomes too tough, then take it out of the bowl and place it on a pre-floured surface (so it doesn’t stick). For many this is the fun part of the process, as you have to knead away at the dough. Simply roll your hands over it, pushing it down with your knuckles as you go. Don’t be afraid to add extra flour if the bread starts to stick down. This process should carry on for around eight minutes, after which time your dough should feel similar to the surface of your earlobe.
Once you’re done, roll the dough back into a ball and place it back into the bowl. Lay a slightly damp towel over the top of the bowl and place it in a relatively warm place. An airing cupboard is the ideal location if you have one nearby. You should the leave the dough to rise for at least 45 minutes.
Baking the Dough
When you come back to the dough it should have risen to around double its original size. Spray the loaf pans with oil. You now have to force the dough down again, through kneading and punching, and distribute it into the loaf pans. This recipe fits three normal pans nicely, but how many you want to make is up to you. Remember that it will rise, so don’t fill the pan to the top. Once you’ve got each pan ready, cover them with the damp towel again and leave them to rise for around half an hour.
Whilst the dough rises, you can use that time to clean up any mess made and preheat your oven to 200oC, although this temperature can be adjusted accordingly depending on your oven type. Fan ovens will cook the bread quicker and thus the temperature should be reduced slightly.
Once the dough’s risen to the top of the pans, place each loaf on the middle shelf of your preheated oven, but be very careful not to get burnt. If you want a more golden crust you can always spray each loaf with oil on top before you bake. Close the oven door and bake the loaves for 30 minutes until their tops are a light golden brown. You can use the thermometer to tell if they’re properly ready, as the temperature throughout should read a high 80oC.
After you’re finished, carefully remove the loaves and put them on rack to cool.
The process can also be altered to deliver different mouth-watering results, and experimented with depending on your own personal tastes. Why not spice things up a little and add some chilli to the mix? Or try something more exotic and soak some raisins in rum overnight and apply them with a sprinkle of cinnamon for an extremely tasty experience.
All that’s left for you to do is sit back and enjoy the alluring scent of freshly baked bread wafting through your home as you tuck in to your delicious homemade food.