I’m determined to master the art of bread-making. I’ve been plugging away for a couple of years now with varying degrees of success. Each time I’ve used a different method, a different recipe and each time I’ve learned something new. I’ve learned that it’s not an exact science. You can follow the recipe exactly and still end up disappointed. I think bread making is about touch, feel and instinct and I think that’s why I like it, you can never be sure what the end result will be. Sometimes I end up with a cake consistency, sometimes it’s just heavy and only useful for a doorstop and sometimes, like today, I get it right.
When you get it right, there is something so completely satisfying about mixing a few ingredients together to produce a food that is wholesome and nourishing.
Today I used 320 grams of wholemeal flour, 1 cup of lukewarm water, 1 tablespoon of dry yeast and a good sprinkling of sea salt.
I mixed these ingredients together by hand in a mixing bowl until they came together and had a slightly sticky feel. I then transferred this mixture to a large lightly greased bowl, covered with cling-wrap and left it in a warm place for approx 2 hours. After two hours I carefully placed it on a floured bench and started to knead and fold. This is my favourite part of the process. It takes about 15 minutes or so. Just keep kneading and folding and turning over itself until the dough feels elastic and smooth. With a bit of love, place the dough back into the greased bowl, cover and leave in a warm place overnight.
Next morning, heat up your oven as high as it will go. I like to use a pizza stone to cook the bread on so I also place this into the oven to heat up. Once the oven is hot, take your dough out of the bowl on a floured bench and gently shape, dust the top with flour and using a sharp knife slash the top so the dough can expand nicely. Place the dough on the pizza stone or oven tray. Splash a cold glass of water into the bottom of the oven to create steam. This will ensure you get a nice crust. Bake for approx 15 minutes or until the bottom of the bread sounds hollow when you tap it.
Like I mentioned earlier, today this worked for me and I was really happy with the result. It was delicious, crusty and tasty with butter and golden syrup.
I’d love to hear about your bread-making success or failure. What are your tips for getting the best results?