How to Bake Your Own Bread

March 19, 2020
Baking Bread
Categories: 

With all these people panic buying, it can worry you. What if I run out of the essentials? 

I know I was like that the other day. We ran out of bread and I worried the store wouldn't have any. That's when I realized I could make my own bread! If you think you have to be a classically trained baker to make a loaf of crusty bread, fear not, if I can do it, you can too. 

So, have you got an extra four hours and a craving for basic white bread? Then hang on because I'm going to take you on a ride through the land of yeast and flour. 

Ingredients: 

4 cups strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

1 tbsp salt

1 small packet of instant yeast

1 ounce of unsalted butter, softened

10.8 ounces of cool water

Olive oil for kneading

 

Instructions:

1. Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl and then add the salt and yeast, making sure they are placed on opposite sides of the bowl. (Tip means pour)

2. Add the butter and ¾ of the water, turning the mixture around using your fingers. (It feels super gross but you can't skip this step. Trust me, I thought about it) 

Baking Bread raw dough

3. Slowly add more water until all the flour has been incorporated. When the dough is soft and not soggy, it is ready. Move the mixture around the bowl to clean the sides until the mixture forms a rough paste. (Don't rush this. I started to panic because my dough was lumpy, but eventually, it will smooth out. Use the water sparingly!) 

4. Cover your work surface with a little oil and then begin to knead the dough. Knead for 5 – 10 minutes, working through the wet stage until the mixture starts to form a soft, smooth skin and feels silky. (Don't know how to knead? I didn't either. Here's what I did. Tuck the top of the dough into the middle, then turn the dough and do it again. Keep tucking the dough into itself for about 10 minutes. That's how long it took for it to get smooth and silky) 

5. Put the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. (This is called proving. I used plastic wrap. What the heck is a tea towel anyway?) When it has risen to at least double in size and the dough is bouncy and shiny it is ready. It should take at least 1 hour but can be left for 2 or even 3 hours. (I left mine for two hours and then it was ready)

6. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. (Then knead it a few times until you get the air out of it. It will start to deflate, and that's okay. Then flatten the dough into a rough oblong. Then you want to take the two ends, bring them together in the middle and roll up the dough. (Think of it like you're rolling up a newspaper)

Baking Bread raw dough

7. The mixture is now ready for proving again. Place it on your baking tray and place this in a clean plastic bag. (Again, I used plastic wrap) Leave to prove for about 1 hour, until it has at least doubled in size and the dough springs back if you prod it gently with your finger.

8. While it proves, you can set your oven to 230°C (425°F) and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up. (Don't know what a roasting tray is? Me either. I used a long flat tray that I use for making Pillsbury biscuits.) 

9. Once your dough is ready, sprinkle it with some flour and then slash deeply with a knife. Add hot water to the hot roasting tray. This will create steam in your oven giving your bread a lighter crust. Put your dough into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until it is cooked and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Leave your bread to cool on a wire rack. (I didn't have a wire rack, so I used a plastic cutting board)

Baking Bread raw dough