“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” ~ James Beard (1903-1985)
About a month ago I watched a River Cottage cooking episode featuring Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. The entire show was about making bread. Mr Munro is a champion bread maker, and while we have homemade bread on occasion, we purchase bread on a weekly basis. After watching the show, I started to wonder. The price of bread in New Zealand has jumped during the last two years. It’s not cheap. What would happen if we made our own bread and didn’t buy any?
I thought about it for a few more days before mentioning the show and my idea to my husband.
“Okay,” he said. “We could try it and see how we go.”
Since there is only two of us, we’ve made bread about twice a week. It’s been a fun project and we both enjoy making bread by hand. The kneading stage is very therapeutic, especially after a crappy day at work.
We make the same basic recipe every time and vary the flavor additions. (nuts, seeds, dried fruit, onion, sundried tomatoes, olives etc) The only limit is our imagination. Sometimes we make focaccia bread while this weekend we made one loaf and half a dozen pull apart rolls. We’re finding the bread is staying fresh. It makes good toast, and it tastes good. Best of all we don’t have all the additives and extras commercially made bread contains.
Here’s Hugh’s basic recipe, which is quite similar to ours.
For one loaf or focaccia or to make half a dozen rolls:
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/3 cups warm water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Mix these ingredients together and let sit until the yeast starts to froth. This won’t take long if you purchase special bread making yeast from the supermarket.
3 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
sprinkle of salt
Add the wet yeast mix to the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until a dough is formed. At this stage we knead the dough then cover with a plastic shower cap and leave to rise in the bowl. When the dough has doubled in size, we remove it from the bowl, knock it back, and place in a greased tin. Leave to rise again before cooking.
The cooking time depends on what we’re making, but we cook a loaf for about 20 – 25 minutes at 200C.
Note – Hubby always uses baking powder, but Hugh’s recipe doesn’t contain it. I’m going to try Hugh’s recipe next time.
Do you like fresh bread? Have you tried making bread before? What is your favorite type of bread?