I love baking bread. I love the kneading, the waiting, watching the dough rise, the air puffing out when you press it down. I love how the dough comes together as you are kneading, the consistency of the dough just before you bake it, I love how the knife cuts slits into the top as if they have always been there.
I love the smell of bread baking in the kitchen, and the hollow sound as you tap the bottom of the baked bread.
It is such an ancient craft, something that people all over the world have been doing, in different ways, for ages – feeding and nurturing their families.
While we don’t bake all the bread we eat anymore, it is still special when we do.
Usually that comes to about once a week.
I thought I’d share our bread recipe with you today. There are so many recipes and ways to bake out there, so this is just one little glimpse of our bread routine.
Bread (makes 1 loaf)
300ml hand-warm water
1 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp salt
500g bread flour (I like to use 2/3 wholemeal flour, with 1/3 seeded flour mixed in)
Dissolve the yeast in warm water with the sugar (you can use honey instead, but I have found that sugar works better for me). Let the mixture rest in a warm place for 10 minutes, until bubbly.
Add the salt and slowly add the flour. When it comes together in one piece of dough, still a bit sticky, knead the dough for about ten minutes. You may need to add some flour, but it should end up being elastic and not sticky any more.
Grease your mixing bowl with some oil and place your dough in it. Put a damp tea towel on top so it doesn’t dry out while it rests; about one and a half hours.
After the dough has risen, press it down and shape into a loaf. Place it in a greased baking tin, cut some slits with a sharp knife, and let the dough rise for another half hour.
Bake for 35 minutes at 200°c. The bread is done when it sounds hollow when you tap its underside. Let the bread cool down a little before enjoying it.
Two of my favourite bread baking books are The Tassajara Bread Book and Baking Bread with Children. In the latter, there are not only bread recipes but other favourites, such as chapatti and pitta bread recipes, as well as the Easter bread recipe I used a few weeks ago. And: bread stories, songs, poems and blessings.