Bake your own bread
This recipe is the latest incarnation of my regular bread recipe. I started making yeast breads over 10 years ago, well I had dabbled with them before that but for at least the past 10 years I basically make all the bread we eat in our family, 1 or 2 bakes a week, each bake gives us 3 loaves.
It was after reading the book ‘Bread’ by Daniel Stevens which is part of the River Cottage Handbook series, No.3 actually. If you want to get into bread I recommend it, he explains all steps in a great way, talks about ingredients and how to knead and form the dough. Forming bread into loaves is actually an important part of bread making, the folding and shaping gives the bread form and helps it rise properly, there is science in it, as with all cooking. It is too much to get into here but I would suggest you look into it if you want to get into bread baking.
The following recipe quantities are also taken from Daniel’s basic recipe, 1kg flour / 600ml water / 20g salt/glug of oil. I play around with this, mix flours, add more liquid, different flours absorb different amounts of water, wholemeal generally needs more. The percentage of flour to water is referred to ‘hydration’, so this recipe is 60% hydration, (1ml water = 1g, so 1000g flour to 600g water = 60% hydration).
- Mixer, helpful but not essential
- 25 g Fresh yeast or 10g of dried yeast
- 500 g Manitoba flour or strong bread flour Organic if available
- 300 g Wholemeal flour Organic if available
- 200 g Spelt flour
- 620 ml Water
- 80 g Sunflower seeds
- 60 g Flax seeds
- 20 g Salt
- 2 tbsp Olive oil extra virgin
- These instructions are for using a mixer, but it can be done by hand, place all dry ingredients onto clean workbench and slowly incorporate the liquid into the flours and then work the dough and knead it for 5-10 mins until the dough is not sticky and smooth and shiny.
- Add the yeast to the water in your mixing bowl, if making by hand put water into a just and add yeast, either way let the yeast dissolve. If using dry yeast follow instructions on the pack.
- Weight out your dry ingredients, and put into mixing bowl
- Attach bowl to your mixer and fit the dough hook
- With the mixer running on slow gradually add the water with the dissolved yeast, and then add the oil
- Let the bread mix for approx 5-7 mins
- Once mixed I just leave it in the mixer bowl and I cover it with a damp tea towel and let it rest and prove for the first time, depending on the ambient temperature this will take around 1 hour but can be longer if cold. Either way you want to leave it until it doubles in size
- When it has doubled take it out of the bowl onto a work surface and 'knock it back', just give a knead for around 20-30 seconds, form it into a ball and place it back into the bowl and cover again for the second prove
- After around another hour the dough is ready to be shaped into loaves. At this stage you can divide and shape it as you want. I normally split the dough into 3 equal amounts and shape into round loaves, once you have shaped your loaves place them onto an oven tray leaving space between them to rise and cover with a clean damp tea towel
- Nearly there now, just the final rest and prove, let your loaves rise and double in size, this will take around another hour, but will be quicker if the environment is hot. Around 30-45 mins later I normally put my oven on, set to 220°C / 425°F / Gas mark 7.
- When your loaves have risen you can top them with seeds or just dust with flour, I have a small spray bottle, if I am topping with seeds I spray the tops with a little water to help the seeds to stick, then score your loaves with a very sharp knife or a blade, I use a blade
- This next step is optional, place a tray on the bottom of your over and add a cup or 2 of hot water. the steam from this will help your bread rise and give you a nice crust, or if you have a fancy oven that creates steam then use it
- Place your loaves into the middle shelf of you oven and let the magic happen
- Bake the loaves for around 30-35 mins, my oven takes 35 mins, all ovens are different to it is good to check after 30 mins, once your happy with the colour take out the over and place on a cooling rack. Let the loaves rest and cool before cutting. Enjoy.