How to Make Bread

making bread

It’s an ancient and simple art that’s immensely satisfying. Learn how to make bread at home and you’ll find the shop bought stuff no longer makes the grade.

Making bread in a machine

Bread machines are increasingly popular – for a very good reason. They take an awful lot of the work out of making bread by kneading, proving and baking automatically. Many can even be set on a timer so that you can wake up to a freshly baked loaf rather than get up super early to knead before the sun comes up!

As useful as a bread machine is, they are still not quite as flexible as making bread yourself.

Making bread from scratch

Once you’ve mastered making bread from a basic recipe, you can graduate to flavoured or shaped breads and more complex recipes. For a basic white loaf, you’ll need:

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 sachet easy bake yeast
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 400ml tepid water

Mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast together in a large bowl. Gently stir in the butter, then about a third of the water. As the dough starts to come together, add another third of the water and stir in. At this stage, carefully add a little more water as you need it, working it into the dough with your hands. You may find you don’t need all of the water – you’re looking for a soft and workable consistency that’s not too sticky.

Flour a clean work surface and tip your dough onto it. Knead the dough to release the gluten, by pushing it away from you and folding it back upon itself. Add a little more flour to the worktop if necessary so that the dough doesn’t stick. After about five minutes, your dough should have a smooth, almost shiny texture and a very elastic consistency.

Put the dough into a bread tin of some kind – Wares of Knutsford do an attractive unglazed terracotta bread form that’s easy to clean. Spread the dough a little so it fits the pan nicely and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave the dough to rise in a warm place – if you don’t have a sunny windowsill, an airing cupboard is ideal.

After about an hour the dough should have doubled in size and is ready to bake. Cook for 30-35 minutes at 180ºC – when the bread is cooked it should be golden brown on top. Leave to cool for about 20 minutes before turning out of the tin and slicing.

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