This recipe is posted especially for my sisters-in-law, Eve and Eliza, pictured above with my daughter Madeleine. Eve recently expressed an interest in baking bread – what a wonderful thing to do! It saddens me at times that we live so far away from each other – at opposite ends of the country. I hope these instructions will go some way to making up for the fact that I can’t be there beside you and your Mum to make your first loaf!
Our daily family bread
I always have a tub of this dough in our fridge and cut off pieces to bake as we need it. It makes lovely loaves, focaccia (when flattened out on a baking tray, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt), calzones (see earlier post), floured rolls, and even naan bread (fry flattened pieces in ghee in a cast iron pan with a lid)!
The ingredients listed below will make enough dough for 2 large or 3 small loaves.1000g unbleached bread flour 20g salt 2.5g dried yeast 750ml water
Note: A set of digital scales comes in very handy when making bread.
Step 1. Find a container with a lid that fits snugly (but does not seal). The one I use is a 1970s punch bowl that Mum and I found when hunting for treasure at the Esk Market. It should be large enough so that the dough, when first mixed, fills no more than a third of the container.
Step 2. Mix dry ingredients together in container (flour, salt, yeast).
Step 3. Add water.
Step 4. Mix to combine, first using a fork and then your hands.
Step 5. Put the lid on and leave on the bench for 12 to 24 hours, or until it looks like this…
This is called the bulk fermentation stage. The dough should have risen to 2 or 3 times its original volume, smell pleaseantly yeasty and have bubbles of different sizes through it. At this stage, you can either start baking or store the dough in the refrigetator for up to one week and cut off pieces as you need it.
Step 6. Cut off a piece of dough that is roughly the size of a small melon (about 750g of dough) and quickly form it into a tight ball. The dough is quite sticky but flouring your hands helps. Let it rest and proof either in a floured proofing basket, like my cane banneton pictured below, or on a sheet of baking paper – the time required will vary depending on whether or not the dough has been refrigerated and whether or not you have the necessary patience (I often don’t).
Step 7. Place a lidded cast iron pot in the centre of your oven and preheat the oven to the max!
Step 8. If you have used a proving basket, invert it onto a sheet of baking paper.
Step 9. Score the surface of the dough (I use a serrated bread knife). This creates a beautiful pattern on the baked loaf but it also helps it to bloom in the oven where you want it to.
Step 10. Open the oven and remove the pot lid. Quickly splash some water into the bottom of the pot to create instant steam and lower the dough in the baking paper into the cast iron pot. Put the lid back on close the oven door.
BE VERY CAREFUL AS THE POT WILL BE BLISTERINGLY HOT AND THE STEAM THAT WILL BE RELEASED CAN SCALD. THIS IS DEFINITELY A MUMMY JOB!!!
Bake with the lid on for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for a further 30 minutes or so – until the loaf is a deep golden brown. Like this…
Wait for the loaf to cool down before you cut into it – this is part of the baking process. Then…
For lots of bread-baking inspiration, visit Wild Yeast!