Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bakey McBakerson

I think part of my current addiction to all things baking-related is also pregnancy-related (when I was pregnant with Isla I baked constantly. Something about nurturing maybe?) but not entirely.

Yes, I still bake sweet things (current favourites of the house: date loaf, date scones, muesli bars, apple and rhubarb crumble) but I've also started baking our own bread. I hope that we can stop buying shop bread altogether shortly, as I'm definitely getting better and faster at making it, and I hate the thought of the preservatives/sugar/salt/etc in even "premium" commercial bread. (The local bakehouse is organic, but expensive too, so that's a no to Mr Organic Sourdough).

Anyway, today I made my first loaf using a new recipe, and it was freaking delicious. Like that kind of delicious that will ruin all other breads eaten hereafter. It's just a basic white loaf, so not great on the GI scale, although I plan on trying it as wholemeal, and maybe adding some seeds to it next time. Chia seeds are reportedly awesome for you, so maybe some of those?

White bread image from here. Because mine was butt-ugly.
Anyway, here's the recipe, as taken from Taste. Written by Anneka Manning (1998) and adapted based on users comments.

COOKING: 20-30min
MAKES: 12 slices-ish
  • Melted butter, for greasing and brushing
  • 500g (3 1/3 cups) plain flour
  • 2 tsp (7g/1 sachet) dried yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 375mls (1 1/2 cups) lukewarm water
  • Extra water, for brushing
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds, for sprinkling
  1. Brush a 10 x 20cm (base measurement) loaf pan with the melted butter to lightly grease.
  2. Place the plain flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl and mix well to combine. Make a well in the centre and add the water to the dry ingredients. The water needs to be lukewarm - if the water is too hot, it can kill the yeast.
  3. Use a wooden spoon to stir until combined and then use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.
  4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. (The best way to knead is to use the heel of your hand to push the dough away from you and then lift it with your fingertips and fold it over itself towards you. Turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat.) You can tell when the dough has been kneaded enough by pressing your finger into the surface of the dough - if it springs back, it has been kneaded sufficiently. If the dough hasn't been kneaded enough, the resulting bread will have a holey, crumbly texture and poor structure.
  5. Shape the dough into a ball. Brush a large bowl with the melted butter to grease. Place the dough into the bowl and turn it over to lightly coat the dough surface with the butter. This will stop the surface of the dough drying out as it stands, which can affect the rising process. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and then place it in a warm, draught-free place to allow the dough to rise. The ideal temperature for rising bread dough is around 30°C.
  6. Leave the dough in this spot until it is double its size. This quantity of bread dough should take between 45-75 minutes to double in size. When the dough is ready, it will retaining a finger imprint when lightly pressed. If left to rise for too long, the bread texture will be uneven and have large holes. If not left for long enough, it will have a heavy, dense texture.
  7. Once the dough has doubled in size. Punch it down in the centre with your fist.
  8. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead again for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and elastic and returned to its original size.
  9. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  10. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and shape each into a smooth round. Place the portions of dough side by side in the greased loaf pan. Brush lightly with the melted butter. Stand the pan in a warm, draught-free place, as before, for about 30 minutes or until the dough has risen about 1cm above the top of the pan.
  11. Gently brush the loaf with a little water and then sprinkle with the poppy seeds. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through. The best way to tell when the loaf of bread is cooked is to tap it on the base with your knuckle - if it sounds hollow, it is cooked.
  12. Turn the loaf immediately onto a wire rack and allow to cool. If left in the pan, the loaf will sweat and the crust will become soft.

  13. Once cool, store the loaf in a well-ventilated place at room temperature. This bread is best eaten on the day it is made. However, it makes great toast 1-2 days later. Make any stale leftovers into breadcrumbs and freeze in a sealed freezer bag to have on hand for later use.

I just ate some of this loaf with mashed avocado, salt and pepper for lunch, and it was genuinely delish. Hope you enjoy. 


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Merci! Ta! Xie xie!