You don't have to be a seasoned baker to whip up a lovely loaf this Real Bread Week, which runs from February 24 to March 4. Creating a beautifully brilliant crusty loaf is easier and quicker than you may think.
Good Living Food Assistant Vanessa Graham has worked in both bakeries and professional kitchens. She explains, "yeasted bread loaves aren’t anything to be afraid of, as most of the time is hands off as you wait for the dough to proof. But there are also plenty of basic bread recipes that don't require any proofing, 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. The beautiful bloomer serves 20 so would be perfect for making at the weekend if you've got a crowd to feed.
This recipe is what bakers would call an ‘enriched dough’. Unlike ‘enriched bread’ that you buy from the supermarket, this recipe doesn’t have added vitamins and minerals, but enhances basic white bread with 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!
And when it comes to kneading, Vanessa says, "I wouldn’t worry about over kneading the bread dough, 10mins is longer than you’d think when you’re using elbow grease!" She explains that the dough is ready when you stretch it thin and can almost able to see through it before it tears.
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 proofing time. Proofing 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.
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 reseablable 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.