I have baked my own bread on and off for quite a while. I was never intimidated by it. I simply thought “oh well” if it didn’t rise or didn’t bake properly. I know many don’t think they are capable of baking bread or that it takes skill. Trust me, it doesn’t. It just takes a bit of muscles (to knead) and some patience (while it rises). Yes, I should be baking sourdough bread. It’s much easier to digest, the nutrients are more readily available and it just tastes better. But I haven’t mastered that yet. I’ve let any sourdough starter I have been gifted to go to waste. I haven’t fed it and it eventually withered and went to bread heaven. That’s my next goal for the coming months. To master the sourdoughs I’ve been meaning to get a “dry” sourdough starter going for quite a while, but……babies and toddlers…..
Baking your own bread is cheaper (if you are hopefully purchasing organic bread with minimal ingredients), does not contain preservatives and stabilizers, and you can control the quality of your ingredients. Plus, I think baking bread is something everyone should know how to do. Why? Well, so when push comes to shove (like the potential our current global situation has) you know how to feed yourself. To appreciate the baking process and what bread bakers do daily. And, because working with your hands is important.
Believe me when I say this bread that I’ve been making for a long time now does not take any special skill or ingredients. I have been using organic whole meal flour which I order from Shipton Mills, here in the UK. Use any wholemeal (preferably organic) flour you have.
So, here we go,
2 tsp yeast
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup warm water.
Mix together in large bowl and let sit about 10 minutes until yeast is bubbly.
Then, add in the following
1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 tbsp salt
3 cups water or scalded and cooled milk
About 6 cups wholemeal flour
Add to bowl of yeast and begin to mix. Start with adding 5 cups of flour. Once it is difficult to mix with a wooden spoon it’s time to use your hands. With both hands mix up the dough until you are able to dump the bowl on your counter and give the bread a good knead (rolling and pressing with the palms of your hand). If you do not know hot to knead , google it now! Give the dough a good knead for a few minutes. Then drizzle your bowl with olive oil, place the dough back into the bowl, cover with a towel and leave in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down to release air and divide in half. You can bake it in loaf tins it form into a ball to bake on any baking sheet you have. To form you will want to flatten the dough into a rectangle, fold up the two long sides and then the two short sides. Flip it over and give it a few turns to form into more of a round shape. Place on your baking sheet that is lightly dusted with flour. Cover with a towel again and let rise for an hour or so. Preheat oven to 375F or 180C and bake for about 40-60 minutes. To know if your bread is done, knock on it. If it sounds hollow it is done!
This bread stores well. You can wrap and freeze on of your loaves or if you are like us, we go through this bread fast. Who doesn’t like fresh bread with a thick layer of butter? That is one of foods greatest gifts.