Sunday, 15 March 2009

the bread project - part deux

To say that I've cracked it would probably be a bit strong, but the loaf of bread I've just cut myself a slice from is arguably the perfect end to a near perfect day.

It was a slow start this morning, but eventually we rose and shone, donned running gear and burst out into the day. KW, She and I ran to Kew in around an hour and 40 minutes, the longest run so far. What with the sunshine and the company we couldn't really have asked for more, even the super awkward journey home on the bus and train didn't take the edge off. After a fruitless search for a disposable barbeque for dinner, and a little while relaxing at home, it was bread time.

I've been gathering tips this week - knead for longer, different wholemeal/plain flour ratio, quick yeast, single proving etc etc. Consequently, the credit of the below should be shared amongst my sister, father, uncle, and Yoni ... with a bit of freestyling from me.

Easy bread I promise

400g strong plain white flour
250g strong wholemeal flour
2 good tsp salt
tsp caster sugar
15ml vegetable oil
sachet of quick yeast (I used 7g Allinson Easy Bake Yeast)
450ml warm water - 1 part boiling, 2 parts cold

You'll need a 2lb loaf tin, a big bowl to mix in, a tea towel and crucially - and I really think this is crucial - a big dish to use as a bain-marie.

I'd decided that amongst the tips from everyone about how to get the bread rising, part of the problem was the temperature. The loaf which had risen beautifully last week after double proving sank on the way through the cold lounge into the kitchen, never to rise again. Without a warm spot to prove the loaf in, and a plastic bowl to mix in (earthenware remains chillier) this afternoon I plumped for a bain-marie - resting the mixing bowl in a pyrex dish filled with boiling water, and proving it in the same fashion.

From the beginning then.

In a large bowl placed in a dish of boiling water, mix flour, sugar salt and stir in yeast. Add the vegetable oil.

Add the warm water gradually into a well in the middle and mix to form a soft dough, the knead for 15 minutes on a warm floured surface. I actually moved the bain-marie to one side, and kneaded the dough on the warmed surface where it had been sat

Transfer the kneaded dough into a warmed, greased loaf tin, sat in the refreshed bain-marie, cover with the tea towel and prove for 30 minutes, or until double the size.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C - bear in mind this is me and my fan oven

Put the bread on the middle shelf - making sure the journey from bain-marie to oven is as short as possible - and bake for 25 mins. You can check it's ready by taking it out of the tin, and tapping on the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it's done.

Remove from the tin, and cool on a wire rack.

Or transfer directly to the bread board momentarily, cut the first steaming wodge and slather it with salted butter.

It's that easy. I'm off to eat more bread.

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