The ingredients are the easy bit.
The list is simple:
If you’ve never made bread before you may not be familiar with the terms and names of the flours out there.
For the flour, be selective. If you want to make just white bread then you need to look for ‘strong white flour’ by name. This is the main one for making bread. There are other flours for making many types of speciality breads. This is something that you can try when you become more experienced. If you want to make a simple basic loaf to get a feel for the process you won’t go wrong with ‘strong white flour’.
Having said that, white bread may not be your thing. You may prefer wholemeal bread in which case you need to look for ‘whole meal flour’. The difference between the two being that the strong white flour has been filtered to remove the bran that gives wholemeal bread its characteristic brown appearance.
Depending on how much you like wholemeal bread, you may not want bread that’s made entirely from from wholemeal flour. Some people find this a little heavy. There is an easy compromise, just use half strong white flour and half wholemeal. When you become more experienced you can play around with the mix ratio to suit you.
You don’t need to use any ‘fancy’ sugar. And it is a myth that you need to use brown sugar for brown bread.
Ordinary white granular sugar is all you need because all it has to do is feed the yeast which raises the dough.
You must add some salt. Without it you will find that your bread will be flavourless. It will be trial and error as to how much to add. My experience, as a veteran bread maker, is to add 1 teaspoon of salt per medium loaf and take it from there.
Yeast & water
The yeast these days can be handle in a number of ways.
You may have heard of solid block yeast which is a bi-product of the brewing industry. This isn’t easy to get hold of these days and, in fact, I’ve never used it.
There are more modern and probably more efficient yeast options. Dried yeast is widely available and very easy to use.
There are two types to be aware of.
If you want to make bread by hand you need to use dried yeast which you add to a measured amount of pre-warmed water.
This will turn into a frothy culture which normally takes about 15 minutes. You then add this to the flour and other ingredients. This type of yeast is usually available in tins which can be resealed.
The other type of yeast comes in sachets where the whole amount from each is added to the flour and other ingredients. This is then mixed dry before a measured amount of warm water is added.
This type of yeast is usually referred to as ‘Easy bake’ and is what you will have to use if you bake bread using a mechanical bread-maker.
The next stage in both cases is mix together to make the dough.
There are two ways to bake bread. As some would say ‘you can have it the easy way or the hard way’.
The hard way.
It depends on how you look at it but the hard way, these days, is to do it all by hand. I do it this way because I’ve been doing it for a long time and I have a good routine that suits me. I bake a batch of five loaves once a week. I’m also very happy with the quality of the bread that I make and others appear to like it as well.
One of the main advantages of hand making bread is that I can do a batch of loaves all in one go. These I can then store in the freezer.
Hand making of bread is a little extra work but I don’t find it too difficult to fit it in with my weekly routine.
You can see how I do it at:
The easy way.
Modern technology has introduced many useful gadgets, especially for in the kitchen.
Bread-making machines have been around for a while and there is a good selection to choose from. They all do the same thing which is to incorporate the ingredients as you would doing it by hand.
They are all programmed to do the mixing and kneading at the precise moments when it should be done. This takes out the guess work.
The ingredients are loaded in as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Some have chambers which contain seeds, nuts or dried fruit which are then included as the programme proceeds. You then choose the required settings and press the ‘start’ button. You can also decide when you want the process to begin by way of a timer to delay the start. This means that you can set it up to start at some time over night and you will have fresh baked bread in the morning. Who wouldn’t want wake up to the smell of fresh baked bread?
Bread making is an art
Which ever system you choose it will quickly become clear that you have to study the subject. Over time you will hone a procedure that suits you and, as you become more confident, you will want to try new things.
If you choose a bread-maker there is an added advantage of being able to use it for other things. You don’t have to just bake bread with it. You can use it to raise some dough then remove it, divide it into smaller pieces and make bread rolls.
It’s also possible to bake cakes in a bread-maker.
that’s just for you.