You don't have to be a seasoned baker to whip up a lovely loaf — creating brilliant bread is easier and quicker than you may think.
Our Good Living Food Assistant Vanessa Graham has worked in both bakeries and professional kitchens.
She explains, "Yeasted bread isn't anything to be scared of. In fact, most of the process involves very little work while you wait for the dough to prove. But there are also plenty of basic bread recipes that don't require any proving, or even kneading. Who said making your own homemade loaf was scary?"
white bread bloomer
"Not too time consuming and an impressive looking result, this is a great bread to practice your skills on," says Vanessa.
This recipe is what bakers would call an ‘enriched dough’ — butter and an egg wash to give the bread richness and a professional glazed crust.
The temperature of the water is really important – too high a temperature will kill the activity of the yeast, meaning your bread won’t rise. Vanessa's trick is to use half boiling water and half cold running water from the tap. She says, "the perfect temperature is when you can just hold your finger in the water comfortably without it being too hot." Do be careful not to burn yourself, though!
Tip: Dried yeast is the easiest to use as you don’t have to activate it or ‘wake it up’.
Short on time? Aren't we all. But if you're after a freshly baked loaf in a hurry, soda bread is the answer.
Vanessa tells us, "quick breads like soda bread are perfect for beginner bakers as they don’t require any proving time. Proving is when you leave the dough in a warm place so that the yeast can activate and create air bubbles in the dough. Quick breads don’t use yeast, instead they use bicarbonate of soda or baking powder as a raising agent, similar to a cake."
And better yet, quick breads rarely require kneading - so there's no excuse from shying away from this loaf.
Tip: To test if the loaf is cooked, tap the bottom - if it sounds hollow, it's ready.
TOMATO AND ASPARAGUS LOAF
Upgrade a basic white bread mix with sundried tomatoes, walnuts and pesto, as with this wholesome loaf.
Vanessa says, "Top it with asparagus spears, or whatever veg takes your fancy – roasted peppers would be equally delicious."
Tip: This savoury bread is extra-delicious warm out of the oven. Try serving warm with soft cheese and fried eggs for a deliciously irresistible brunch or lunch option.
Bread in a bag
If the kids are itching to get involved with the bread making, this bread-in-a-bag recipe is an exciting and hands-on way to show them how their bread is made. All the mixing and kneading is done inside a resealable plastic bag and the bread is baked in a foil tray, so you save on mess, and you don't need any extra equipment so no washing up either! Perfect for kids.
Tip: Cover your bread-in-a-bag with a warm tea towel to help the dough rise faster.