There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of pulling out a perfectly baked loaf from your oven, your house full of the delicious smells fresh bread. Here are a two secrets to making bread at home plus our bread recipe I use all the time.
One of the things I most miss when we’re travelling is cooking. And ironically about a day into being home again, all I can think about is avoiding the kitchen and roaming the restauranted thoroughfares of Siena or the bustling markets of Kota Kinabalu.
But one thing that never gets boring is making fresh bread.
Perhaps it’s the wonderful aromas of the bread baking, perhaps it’s watching the dough grow in the proof. Or perhaps it’s the exertion of kneading where you can unleash your frustrations.
But whatever your motivation, here’s how to make bread at home:
How to make bread at home
Here’s what you ‘knead’ – sorry
– 350ml warm water
– 2tsp dry yeast
– 2tsp sugar
– 2tsp salt
– around 500g strong/bread flour
– Any seeds or grains you want to add (I even use a tbsp of coffee grounds!) up to about ½ cup
Here’s what you ‘dough’ – no, that doesn’t really work
1. Dissolve 1 tsp of sugar in the warm water then add the yeast and leave until frothy.
2. Combine salt, about 400g of the flour and the rest of the sugar in a big bowl.
3. When the yeast mix is ready – it takes about five minutes – add it to the flour mix and combine until there’s no visible dry flour in the bowl. You should have a reasonably wet mixture now.
4. Here’s trick number one: autolyse.
This is the process that allows the liquid to soak into the flour and ‘hydrates’ the dry mixture. After you’ve mixed the flour and liquid together, leave it covered in the bowl for about 20-30 minutes.
Here’s an in-depth study on how it works and a few tests too.
5. Add the seeds and grains on top of your dough and press them in a little, then drop the dough onto a well-floured surface. Gradually add the remaining 100g as you begin to knead. If you have a machine with a dough hook, lucky you! Combine as much of the remaining flour as you can, but don’t be a slave to the measurements. If the dough is beginning to feel dry, don’t add any more flour. Knead for about 10-15 minutes.
6. Here’s trick number two: ageing your dough.
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic and put it in the fridge for about 24 hours. It will still rise and prove, just much slower. The gluten will gain more structure and the yeast will also ferment slightly, giving the dough a bit of a sour quality. Of course this isn’t how sourdough is made, but you can get some striking similarities in the result without all the effort of creating a starter.
7. Take the bowl out of the fridge and wait until it’s back to room temperature. If the dough hasn’t risen much, leave the bowl in a warm place until you’ve seen more growth.
8. Knead lightly on a floured surface then shape your dough or put it in a loaf tin and leave it under a ‘tent’ to prove again for about 45 minutes.
9. Bake at 220°C for about 25 minutes – glaze with milk if you want – and allow to cool before you hack into it and cover it in butter!
I know this recipe sounds like a lot of work, but if you’re already looking at how to make bread, I’m guessing you have put aside some time already. These extra two steps – the autolyse and the ageing process – make a significant difference to the bread.
If you want to have the loaf ready in a few hours, just skip these steps and you’ll still be left with great bread. But it’s worth giving them a go – especially the autolyse.
Looking for another way to use your bread recipe other than loaves? You’ve got to try my superb cheesy macadamia and Vegemite scrolls. They’re amazing.
And if you want another great trick to take to your kitchen, check out my secret weapon for giving your tomato-based sauces a mega-boost of flavour here.
Do you have any secret tricks to recipes? Have you heard of autolyse before? Talk to us in the comments!