Back to basics – Bread

There are so many types and varieties of bread available globally and it is no wonder that it is one of the world’s oldest staples.  I am incredibly lucky to have tried so many artisan breads whilst I have been living in France.  Bread is a key food in French society and is eaten with most meals.  Something I have started to learn since being out here is the implication of using different flour “types” when making bread.  For those of you who are wondering what I mean when I say “type” here is a quick summation of the most common flour types France:

Type Meaning
45 Pastry flour (because of how finely it is ground)
55 All-purpose flour (most commonly used for making baguettes and other breads though I used it a lot for making cakes)
65 A rustic flour (typically used to make biscuits and country style bread)
80 A light wholemeal flour
110 wholemeal flour
150 100% wholemeal flour

I generally use a combination of type 55 and type 65 when I make bread because they are easy to come by as well as the cheapest to buy.  The other conclusion I have reached in bread making is that whilst the majority of the flavour comes from the ingredients used, the type of oven that is used can also add to the taste.  We have two boulangeries (bakeries) within a 2km radius that use wood fired ovens to bake their bread in.  The resulting taste is quite special and gives the bread a lovely crust.  I am hoping in the next couple of weeks to try and bake some bread in one of these ovens to see how it alters the taste of the bread recipe that I use.

In the meantime however I have to make do with using a standard fan oven in which to bake my bread.  This morning I woke up relatively early and decided to make a loaf for lunch, so around 11.30 am the house started to be filled with the gorgeous smell of bread.  We enjoyed it for lunch, eating it perhaps a little too soon but the smell was just too good to resist.  If you have the willpower, the bread is best eaten an hour after it is taken out of the oven when it has had time to cool down.

 

White Loaf

Ingredients:

  • 400g white flour (type 55 or equivalent)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 25g fresh yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 250 – 275 ml water

Steps:

  1. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and mix together.
  2. Place the yeast and sugar in a measuring jug and stir together until the fresh yeast is crumb like.
  3. Add the oil to the measuring jug and then top up with water till you have 250ml.  Stir together well.
  4. Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and combine using your fingers adding a little more water at this point if it is needed.
  5. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for a good 10 minutes, you will notice that the texture of the dough will change during this time, once you have finished kneading the dough should spring back after being pressed lightly.

  6. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 1 ½ – 2 hours (a warm place is preferable).
  7. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch/knock the air out of the dough and give it one last quick knead before shaping it into a ball and placing it in an oiled and floured tin leaving it to rise for the second time for another 1 ½ – 2 hours.
  8. Place the dough in an oven that you have preheated to 220C fan – on placing the bread in the oven turn the temperature down to 200C fan and cook for 20-25 minutes.  Turn the oven down slightly if you feel it is cooking too quickly and browning too much on the top.
  9. Once cooked remove from the oven and leave to cool on a rack for about an hour.

 

 

6 thoughts on “Back to basics – Bread

  1. Jane

    You have inspired me – the smell of fresh bread baking in the house is something I need again! What is the secret to making a Baguette?

    Reply
    1. Back on track in the kitchen Post author

      Hi Jane, I think the secret to making a baguette is firstly using Type 55 flour if you can get it. Secondly, it helps to have steam in your oven whilst it is cooking – do this by putting a cup of water into a roasting tray that is on the bottom on your oven, and lastly I would cook the bread at a slightly higher temperature 210-220C fan, turning down towards the end of cooking if it is needed. Good luck and happy baking!

      Reply
      1. Jane

        Hi Ant, Thanks so much. Unfortunately in Hong Kong I can’t get Type 55 flour and don’t know what it is. Any thoughts there? All else is self explanatory. I’ll let you know in due course! I am enjoying your blog. Keep up the good work, it’s very inspiring. Jane.

  2. Back on track in the kitchen Post author

    Have you tried Oliver’s in Princess Building in Central HK – I am not sure if they will have it but I used to spend hours wandering around there in my lunch hours in awe of the sheer variety of food! However as an alternative I reckon if you use an equal quantity of plain flour and strong (Bread) flour it will give you the closest thing to the French flour Type 55. Bon chance and thank you for your kind words!

    Reply
  3. Pingback: My take on Panettone cooked in a wood fired bread oven | Back on track in the kitchen

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