The simplest recipes sometimes yield the best results.
Gluten does things to me, but I cannot help but have this conflicting love affair with bread. I love bread. I’m a breadophile.
After my first bread making attempt produced extremely dense little wholemeal bunlets, I decided to just go with making a good old plain bread loaf.
I used one of the easiest recipes, Jamie Oliver’s basic bread recipe, and result was a spectacular loaf of bread.
It is more dense than the store bought bread we are so used to buying, which of course are chock full of bread improvers. Slightly chewy, and has this great buttery texture and flavour which I cannot explain, because the recipe literally called for just flour, water, yeast, salt and sugar.
This bread is good just on its own, but with extra virgin olive oil, it is addictive.
To illustrate how good the bread is: my 4 year old grabbed the huge hunk of a bun (more like a mini loaf) and starting bulldozing through it.
Me: Do you want mummy to spread anything on the bread? Nutella? Peanut butter? Cheese?
Her: No. I just want to eat it like that. I don’t care.
She is usually so polite, but something was unleashed today!
ANYway, here is the recipe. Simplified, abbreviated.
1 kg bread flour
625 ml room temperature water
25g dried yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
1. Place flour on to a clean surface and make a large well in the centre. Pour half your water into the well, then add your yeast, sugar and salt and stir with a fork.
2. Gradually stir in flour from the edges of your well.Continue to bring the flour in to the centre until you get a consistency similar to oatmeal. Add the remaining water, and continue to mix until you bring in all the flour. The mixture will feel a little sticky, but as long as it isn’t gooey, you are good to go.
3. Start kneading. The dough should go from sticky to smooth and silky. Knead for about 5 minutes.
4. Flour the top of your dough, put it in a bowl and cover with cling film or cover bowl with clean, damp cloth, and allow it to proof in a warm place for about half an hour until it doubles in size.
5. Once the dough has doubled in size, knock the air out for 30 seconds by squashing and punching it. Shape it or flavour it as you like, and leave it to proof for a second time for 30 minutes to an hour until it has doubled in size once more.
6. Bake your bread at 180°C for 30-40 minutes or until top is golden brown. Tap the bottom of your tray/tin, and if it sounds hollow, your bread is done.
Voila. Fresh homemade bread!