Tag Archives: basics

Seeded loaf (Preparation time: +4hrs)

Making bread maybe a slow process but once it is baked and you cut the first slice it is incredibly satisfying.  I have recently taken to making the dough up just before I go to bed and placing it in the fridge to rise very slowly overnight.  When I get up in the morning I take it out of the fridge and let it warm up for about an hour before knocking it back and shaping it for its second rise, which means I have fresh bread in time for a late breakfast

Aside from making sure that your bread has sufficient time to rise one of the most important things when you make the bread is how you shape it before placing it in the tin.  I will freely admit that there have been many occasions where I have rushed the shaping and ended up with a hollow loaf.  My tip it make sure that you knead the dough properly before the second rise and make sure that it malleable and supple enough to easily shape then slowly and carefully work the dough into the shape that you need for your tins.

If you haven’t made bread before do give it a try! It is a very straightforward process and kneading the dough can be hugely therapeutic especially if you have had a tough week.  If that isn’t enough incentive then just think about the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through your house and being able to eat the loaf when it is still warm from the oven – heaven!!

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White bread baps – perfect for a lunch, brunch or BBQ

We don’t often eat brunch at home but when we do it normally involves an English breakfast.  However, today as we lacked some of the vital ingredients for this so we had to settle for bacon baps (buns).  Consequently, I decided to make the baps this morning as there is something quite special about having freshly cooked bread for any meal.

At the moment I am making bread in some form or other at least twice a week – every time I make it the process gets easier and easier and I find it incredibly relaxing. These baps are very soft both inside and out and would make great sandwiches to use in packed lunches or for picnics or for burgers at barbecues.

Fresh yeast and dried yeast

It has dawned on me recently that I am in an incredibly fortunate position to be able to get fresh yeast from my local bakery here in France.  However, I do appreciate that not everybody has this luxury so, if you only have dried yeast available, then work on the following principal:

  • Where a recipe uses 25g fresh yeast, use 7g dried yeast in its place.  (The reason that you need less of the dried yeast is due to the moisture content in fresh yeast.)

 

 

White Bread Baps

Ingredients:

  • 400g white flour (type 55 or equivalent)
  • 25g fresh yeast
  • 25g melted butter
  • 200ml milk (tepid)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

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 milk and butter to the measuring jug and stir.

4.  Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and combine using your fingers.

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 a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 1 ½ – 2 hours (until it has doubled in size).

7.  Knock the air out of the dough.  Place the dough onto a floured surface and roll into a long sausage shape then cut into 12 equal sized pieces.  Shape the pieces into small balls 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 190C fan and cook for 18-20 minutes.  Turn the oven down slightly if you feel it is cooking too quickly and browning too much on the top.

9.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool before eating, the baps are best stored in an airtight tin.

   

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.