Panic buyers may be sweeping the supermarket shelves dry of our basic bread and pasta, but since we are all spending more time at home and avoiding social contact, what better time to refine your baking skills and start making fresh bread of your own? Baking is a great way to raise spirits (and loaves) whilst isolating- and little compares to the warm, yeasty smell of bread fresh out of the oven. Plus, with all the ingredients being long-life, and likely to be already lurking at the back of your cupboards and shelves, bread making is not only easy but extremely cheap!
With this in mind, we have put together a list of our favourite bread recipes we think you’ll love, and afterwards you just might not be needing that bread aisle…
Crusty White Loaf
MAKES: 1 loaf PREPARATION TIME: 20 mins COOKING TIME: 25-30 (plus 2 hours proving)
Don’t be fooled thinking a bread machine is a must-have for stress-free baking. This bread recipe requires a minimal amount of kneading and will produce an impressive crusty white loaf, perfect for hearty sandwiches (or just smothered in butter). And once you’ve mastered this basic loaf, the bread-making world’s your oyster….
- 500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 tsp salt
- 7g sachet fast-action yeast
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 300ml water
- Mix 500g strong white flour, 2 tsp salt and a 7g sachet of fast-action yeast in a large bowl.
- Make a well in the centre, then add 3 tbsp olive oil and 300ml water, and mix well. If the dough seems a little stiff, add another 1-2 tbsp water and mix well.
- Use about a teaspoon of oil to lightly grease a clean work surface and knead for around 10 mins.
- Once the dough is smooth, place it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise for 1 hour until doubled in size or place in the fridge overnight.
- Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Knock back the dough (punch the air out and pull the dough in on itself) then gently mould the dough into a ball.
- Place it on the baking parchment to prove for a further hour until doubled in size.
- Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7.
- Dust the loaf with some extra flour and cut a cross about 6cm long into the top of the loaf with a sharp knife.
- Bake for 25-30 mins until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.
Use olive oil, instead of flour, when kneading as it helps keep the texture of the dough consistent.
MAKES: 2 loaves
PREPARATION TIME: 30 mins
COOKING TIME: 40 mins (plus resting and proving)
Try this recipe for a delicious Italian bread with a crisp crust and wonderfully chewy centre. The dough is wet and sticky and can seem difficult to work with, so we recommend using a stand mixer for this recipe. But that wet stickiness is also vital to the light, bubbly, airy texture of this bread! The irregular holes give it a rustic feel and it’s a personal favourite, especially drizzled in olive oil and dipped in balsamic vinegar.
For the big
- ¼ tsp dried active yeast
- 165g plain flour
For the dough
- ½ tsp dried action yeast
- 35ml warm milk
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 250g strong white bread flour
- The night before, make the biga (see above). Stir yeast with 50ml warm water, stand for 10 mins, then add another 80ml warm water. Gradually add the flour in a stand mixer on its lowest setting. Once it’s a wet dough, transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover and leave for 12 hours or overnight at room temperature.
- In the morning, combine the yeast and milk and leave to stand for 10 mins. Tip into a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook, add 160ml water, the biga and the olive oil. Then add the flour and 1 heaped tsp salt. Use the dough hook of a stand mixer to combine the dough. Knead for 10 mins until smooth and elastic. Don’t worry if it looks very wet, it should to be a very wet dough! Pour into a well-oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to prove for an hour and a half or until doubled in size.
- Once rested, begin to do a series of folds – lift the dough from the edge, pull up, over, then release it. Turn the bowl 90 degrees and do the same again. Repeat so you do a full turn of the bowl twice, or 8 folds. Rest for 30 mins, then repeat the whole folding process once more.
- Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 6. Tip the dough onto a really well-floured surface and cut in half. The dough will feel like a batter and spread across the surface a bit, but don’t panic, just work on a well-floured surface, using the flour and a pastry scraper to help move the dough. Shape the dough into 2 large squares (about 20cm x 20cm). Dealing with each loaf at a time, fold the dough in from each side, as if folding a booklet. Flip over, then pick up the roll and place each onto separate well-floured sheets of baking paper. The roll will be very soft, so oil or flour your hands well. Allow to rest for another 30 mins, covered with a floured tea towel. Don’t worry if it spreads a little.
- While the dough rests, heat a baking sheet in the oven. Once the dough has rested, slide each of the loaves, along with the baking paper beneath them, onto the hot baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 mins, until the crust is golden and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the base.
To get a crisp crust, fill a tray with a little water and place it in the oven underneath the bread during baking.
MAKES: 1 loaf PREPARATION TIME: over 2 hours COOKING TIME: 30 mins to 1 hour
Next up is this perfect focaccia bread recipe that can easily be adapted with whatever herbs you have in the house (we think rosemary works best). Your loaf will be crisp on the outside and soft in the middle and served perfectly with dinner and soups.
- 500g/1lb 2oz strong white bread flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 sachets dried easy blend yeast
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 400ml/14fl oz cold water
- olive oil, for drizzling
- fine sea salt
- Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and 300ml/10½fl oz of the water into a large bowl. Gently stir with your hand or a wooden spoon to form a dough, then knead the dough in the bowl for five minutes, gradually adding the remaining water.
- Stretch the dough by hand in the bowl, tuck the sides into the centre, turn the bowl 90 degrees and repeat the process for about five minutes.
- Tip the dough onto an oiled work surface and continue kneading for five more minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.
- Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Tip the dough out of the bowl and flatten the dough onto the prepared tray, pushing to the corners, cover with a large plastic bag, making sure it does not touch the top of the dough, then leave to prove for one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7. Drizzle the loaves with oil, sprinkle with fine sea salt then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. When cooked, drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve hot or warm.
To add herbs, like rosemary, make small indentations all over the dough, just before you drizzle the loaf with olive oil. Then break off small sprigs of rosemary from a couple of larger sprigs and push them into each of the indentations.
REVIVING YOUR BREAD
Bread may be in high demand at the moment, but it is also one of the most frequently thrown away foods. So, when you notice your homemade bread becoming slightly tough, revive it and make it last longer with this simple trick.
You want to re- introduce the moisture back into the bread, so cover the bread with a small amount of water, place in a baking tray and bake at 180 degrees for eight minutes. You’ll have renewed bread that’s moist in the inside and crunchy on the outside!
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