Is there anything more comforting than having the rich smell of freshly baked bread waft through the house?
There was a time that I baked my own bread nearly every Saturday morning. The smells invited you to the kitchen was truly heavenly and made the house feel so homey. It is unfortunate that I haven’t done that recently since time is getting really sparse, but every now and then one simply just have to make time.
1 kg strong bread flour
625 ml tepid water
X3 7 g sachets of dried yeast , or 30g fresh yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
flour , for dusting
Start by sifting the flour and salt and make a well in the middle.
Pour the water into a jug and gently mix in the yeast, sugar and olive oil. Leave for a few minutes until the yeast makes the mixture froths. Once it is frothy, pour into the well.
Use a fork to gradually bring the flour in from the sides and mixing it into the liquid until it comes together.
Tip the dough onto a (clean!) lightly dusted surface and knead until you have a smooth dough. My grandmother used to say: knead until your hands are clean, meaning that you shouldn’t add more flour otherwise the final product will be too heavy!
Place the ball of dough in a large (clean) flour-dusted bowl. Cover the bowl with some cling film (I use a disposable shower cap!) and place in a warm spot for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
Once risen, tip the dough onto a flour-dusted surface and gently push the air out with the palm of your hand. If you skip this step of knocking the dough the end result will be flat and chewy and not pleasant to eat at all.
Shape the dough the way you like it, before letting it rise for a second time.
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celcius.
Place the bread in the oven along with a small tray with a splash of water (no more than 1/2 cup of water). This will ensure that the dough rises in the oven before the crust forms.
Leave the bread to bake until it is golden and cooked through (it will sound hollow when you tap the underside).
Once baked, leave the bread to cool under a dry dish towel.
Serve with lashings of fresh butter.
NEVER attempt to cut hot bread. It will become dense and really tough to eat. ALWAYSwait for it to cool to room temperature.
Another top tip:
Brush some garlic butter over the loaves just before it goes into the oven and just after you take it out of the oven – it is out of this world!