Friday, 10 June 2011

The Bakers wife: because bread matters, really matters

Over the last weeks I've had a lot of time on my hands, and when my eyes have been OK I've been re-reading Bread Matters by Andrew Whitely. I've been taking more notice of what I've been eating, and despite trying to keep processed products at a minimum, my need for toast and marmite has meant that I've been eating more processed bread than I would like and before I got unwell I was eating a lot of sandwiches, the death of Mabel meant that these were all mass produced.

Naturally I would prefer to be baking with a new baby Mabel, but in the absence of a new leaven I went out to buy some yeast. Ideally fresh, but sadly Waitrose seem to have decided they neither sell nor give out fresh yeast. However, I did manage to get some stoneground wholemeal flour, although my bid to get something that's relatively local was not successful as Waitrose's most local flour was from Canada. Yes, Canada. North of North America. Confused? I was, and have put a call into Customer Services to ask about why they aren't stocking any British bread flour.

So the plan is to work my way through the bread recipes in Andrew Whitely's book seeing how easy, tasty and successful they are. In order to avoid turning into a yeasty blob, I'm going to only bake once a week, and will be passing much of it on to the ever grateful Mark, colleagues and friends.

My first bake has been (appropriately) Basic Bread - it's a 4 hour bread - and the only error I've made is to forget to keep a peice back to use as 'old dough'

Makes 1 large or 2 small loaves
600g stoneground strong wholemeal flour - I used 400g wholemeal and 200g of malted flour for a sweeter taste
1tsp sea salt
400ml water
1.5 heaped teaspoons of yeast - I used dry as I couldn't get fresh
Linseeds for the top

Put the flour & salt in a big bowl
Mix the yeast in the warm water until it starts to froth, add the liquid to the flour and mix with your hands until you have a ball of dough
Tip this out on the worktop and knead for 10 - 15 minutes
Put back in the original bowl, and leave to rise for 2 hours, covered with a plastic bag
Split into 2, and stretch/ knock back to fit 2 buttered loaf tins
Put somewhere warm, covered with a plastic bag again until it's doubled in size
Bake in a 230 degree oven for 10 minutes, then turn down to 200 degrees for a futher 30 minutes
Tip out of tins and leave to cool on a wire rack

Enjoy! Next week, Milk bread

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