“Was your dad a baker? ‘Cos you’ve got hot buns!”
Well, baking bread is not only about them hot buns (even though it really is). It’s actually pretty fun and extremely rewarding. When that batch of freshly baked bread rolls come out of your oven, you’d be smiling from ear to ear.
I made some bread with Sarah that day and we got our recipe from Jamie Oliver’s The Return of the Naked Chef.
- 30g/1oz fresh yeast or 3 x 7g sachets dried yeast
- 30g/1oz honey (or sugar)
- 625ml/just over 1 pint tepid water
- 1kg/just over 2lb strong bread flour
- 30g/1oz salt
- some extra flour for dusting
- Dissolve the yeast and honey (or sugar) in half the tepid water
- On a clean surface, make a mountain of the flour. Then make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture. Use a fork to introduce and mix the flour into the mixture, until all the yeast mixture is soaked up. Then pour the remaining tepid water in and mix everything together gradually in the same way. You want to do this until you have a moist dough. (Some flours may require more water than others, so don’t be a afraid to adjust the quantities.)
- Knead away! Whack, smack, punch and work at the dough to activate the gluten. Do this for about 5 minutes. Great way to relieve any pent up frustrations. Hah. If any of the dough sticks to your hands, rub them together with a little extra flour.
- When you’re done kneading, make the dough into a roundish shape and flour the top of it. Deeply score the dough with a knife, allowing it to relax and rise with ease (and with yeast). Then, flour a deep mixing bowl as well and place the dough in. Cover with clingflim and let it rise till it doubles in size. Jamie says, “Ideally you want a warm, moist, draught-free place for the quickest prove.” This should take about 40 minutes.
- When the dough has grown twice its size, get it out and bash it about for about a minute or so before shaping it to whatever form you want. Then let it sit and rise again for other 40 minutes or so. This second proving is extremely crucial as it’s the time your bread becomes delicately soft and lovely.
- Preheat your oven to 180ºC.
- Cooking the bread now requires tender handling and patience. No more hard bashes and violent grabbing. You want the air in the bread to stay inside, so gently place the bread into the preheated oven, without slamming the door.
- Monitor the baking, take it out when the bread’s beautifully bronzed and hollow-sounding when tapped. Leave them on a rack to cool.
Here’s what we made with this batch of dough:
Get your hands into some flour and yeast, and knead away today.