Bread has always been one of my most favourite things to bake.
There's something very life-affirming about freshly baked bread. And despite what you might think, it doesn’t require any specialist tools, or skills or even very much time to turn out delicious, wholesome, homemade loaves on a daily basis.
I go through ‘phases’ with bread baking. When I’m on a roll (haha – get it?!) I bake a loaf of this ‘Daily Bread’ 3 or 4 times a week, which means that we don’t need to buy any other bread, and I get to feel all virtuous and earth-mothery.......
Its got none of the scary ingredients that shop bought bread contains (though I do think a bit of salt and sugar is necessary!), and it has loads of tasty seeds for crunch and flavour.
Right now I’m not in that phase - we’ve just moved to a house with a elderly, unreliable gas oven, which struggles to even cook fish fingers properly….but I'm planning on getting back on the bread baking wagon very soon!So these photos are from a few weeks ago (back in a previous life when I had a nice predictable electric oven to work with) ……. But I only just got around to writing up the recipe.
It so happens that the village we’ve just moved to has a café called Daily Bread (which is obviously now my new fav hangout – both because of the delicious things they bake, and also because it’s the only place I've found to get a decent coffee around here). At least there’s somewhere that I can buy lovely freshly baked bread until I get organised enough to start making my own again……
Daily Bread Recipe
Takes: 1.5 hours in total, but you’re only ‘working’ for 10-15 minutes of that time! The rest is rising and baking!
Makes: 1 large loaf (baked in a 2lb loaf tin. I can get about 15 slices from a loaf)
Storage: This recipe contains no preservatives, so is best eaten as bread within 24 hours, but it makes fabulous toast for another 3 days after that!
Equipment: I use a 2lb loaf tin to bake my bread - but if you don't have one, just bake your loaf free-style on any oven tray - it'll taste just as good! I often do the kneading part of the process with the dough hook on my KitchenAid mixer - but 2 hands and some muscle power works equally well. So don't let lack of 'kit' put you off baking bread!
400 grams strong bread flour – white, brown, granary or a mixture (plus extra for kneading)
1 sachet fast action dried yeast (7grams)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
100 grams mixed seeds (e.g. sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and linseed)
300 ml warm water
Oil to grease the tin
Optional; Beaten egg to brush the top, and extra seeds for sprinkling
- First measure the flour, sugar, yeast, salt and seeds into a big mixing bowl. Mix them together well with a fork.
- Measure 300ml of warm water (baby bath type temperature!) and pour it into the bowl with the dry ingredients – the yeast should froth slightly as you do. Use a fork or your hands to work all the ingredients together until you start to get a ball of sticky dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a table or worktop dusted with flour. With both hands, knead the dough for 5 minutes until it is smooth and soft. You may need to sprinkle some extra flour on your hands and the table, but go easy, the stickier the dough is, the lighter the texture of your finished loaf will be. (Note: The point of kneading is to develop the gluten strands in the flour so they become elastic....so don't worry about your technique - anything that involves firm, repeated folding and stretching will work! I often use the dough hook on my standing mixer to do this because although I love kneading dough, these days I often need both hands free for breaking up toddler-wrestling matches)
- Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with clingfilm, and leave it aside for 30-40 minutes. It should double in size. Note: The warmer the room is the faster it will rise. If you want fresh bread in the morning, you can leave the bowl in the fridge overnight to rise very slowly, and then do the remaining steps the following day.
- When the dough has risen you need to ‘knock it back’, which means kneading it hard to get all the air bubbles out of it. This only takes 30 seconds, and you may need an extra dusting of flour so it doesn't stick to you.
- Roll the dough firmly into a fat sausage shape that fits into your bread tin (I've started using a ceramic loaf mould - just because someone gave it to me and I like it! but I don't think it makes much difference whether it's metal or ceramic!) . Grease the tin with a little oil, place the dough inside, then cover it loosely with clingfilm and leave it to rise again for 20-30 minutes or until it has puffed up to fill the tin and rise slightly over the top.
- Turn on the oven to 180 degrees. (Note: If you like an extra crunchy crust, place a shallow dish of water in the bottom of the oven – the steam reacts with the sugars in the flour as it cooks to give a crunchier crust.)
- When it has risen, use a pastry brush to brush beaten egg over the top of the loaf and generously scatter seeds over that (this is optional – the egg and seeds are purely aesthetic!)
- Bake the loaf for 30-35 minutes at 180 degrees C until it is risen, feels firm and sounds hollow when you turn it out and tap the bottom.
- Turn the loaf out of the tin and leave it to cool on a cooling rack before slicing.