My father tells me how to do it now, and is very proud of the fact that he is creating something new. (He seems to have forgotten that I showed him 10 years ago). My son and daughter both do it, any wife has a special recipe for doing it. We eat it all the time, we squeeze it, toast it, crumb it and stuff it, grill, fry and butter it, but do we ever give any thought as to how bread actually arrived at our table?
Through much of history, a person's social station could be discerned by the colour of bread they consumed. The darker the bread, the lower the social station. This was because whiter flours were more expensive and harder for millers to adulterate with other products. Today, we have seen a reversal of this trend – darker breads are more expensive and highly prized for their taste as well as their nutritional value.
Having spent the last eight months baking bread on a regular basis, it has become a fascination to me how bakers turn white or brown flour into this carbohydrate that graces our table every day. I thought cheffing was hard, but I take my hat off to the bakers.
All you really need to produce bread at home is four basic ingredients. This produces enough for two large loaves or you can form into other shapes.
1kg white bread flour or high grade flour
20g salt (this helps give flavour)
14g dry activated yeast (2 sachets)
600ml water (slightly warm or "tepid")Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and give them a dry mix with a wooden spoon.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the water.
Stir the flour into the water. Flour can vary and humidity can make a difference, so you might find you need to add a little more flour or water.
Turn your dough out on to a floured surface and start kneading. Keep working the dough for about 10 minutes until it is even in texture. Now roll the dough into a ball and place it into a lightly greased container and cover. Put in a warm place (not too hot, yeast starts to die above 50 degrees Celsius) until it doubles in size. This will take about an hour.
Once your dough has doubled, divide it into two even portions and then roll into loaf shapes.
Place into large loaf tins and cover again to allow to rise until it reaches the top of the tin. While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 230C.
Cook for 30-40 minutes. You can check if it is baked by knocking on the crust and listening for a hollow sound.