Monday, 3 January 2011

Bread Making.

On and off throughout our life we have been making our own bread, and for the last twenty plus years we always have made our own. When we first moved to Ireland we found the bread unacceptable, so started making our own by hand three times a week. As our organic business took off we often found we were out of bread and had no time to make it so we bought a bread maker, this was OK, it gave us quite good bread, but not as good as the hand made bread. Since moving to Spain we have reverted to hand made bread, sometimes we use the food mixer and sometimes we do the process by hand. We think the food mixer with a dough hook gives better results, although it takes about the same amount of time.
So to make bread.
1lb of strong white flour or half and half of white and brown. We always use Organic flour.
Half a pint of half milk half water, just warm.
1 egg.
18grams fresh yeast or two level teaspoons of dried yeast.
1 desert spoon of sugar.
1 level teaspoon of salt.
We always add the yeast to the warm milk/water with the sugar although it is not necessary to do so, we find this works best.
Place the flour with the salt in a large bowl or the food mixer bowl with the salt. Wait for the yeast to foam up,add this to the flour and add the egg, mix together well, if using a dough hook this takes about 10 minutes, if by hand about five minutes, with a further five minutes kneading, using the heel of the hand to work the dough, stretching and folding the dough under until it is pliable. You will know when it is ready by pushing your finger into the dough, it should spring back.
Shape the dough roughly to the shape of your tin and place in the greased floured tin, brush the top with either milk or beaten egg and sprinkle poppy seeds or sesame seeds on top, leave in a warm place to rise. When it has doubled in size, bake in a moderately hot oven about 30- 35 minutes. It is as simple as that,it should sound hollow when cooked, you can do what they call a double rise, this does not give a better loaf. You can of course add various thing into your bread, from garlic to stinging nettles, nuts to fruit.
Try it, it's fun and very rewarding.
Unlike pastry that needs the gentle touch, bread likes to be pummelled, it also likes warm hands, unlike pastry.
Last week we were forced to buy our sugar in a plastic bag, the shop had run out of the brand in the paper bags, the sugar in the plastic bags is made from sugar beet, so more plastic to get rid of, although it is a cent or two cheaper. The sugar in the paper bags is cane sugar, what we had not realised is that beet sugar is sweeter than the cane sugar. I had the second batch of Marmalade to make using the beet sugar we found is was far too sweet for our taste and had to use a couple of lemons, this of course changed the thickness of the marmalade so it is very well set, I just hope we can spread it on our bread.