I made a silly number of New Year’s Resolutions for 2012. I don’t know what possessed me but I’ve decided that 2012 is going to be the year I do lots of things. So this year I’d like to jog a half marathon, write more blog posts, save more money and attempt to learn how to bake.
So I’ve set myself a target of baking a different kind of bread every month. I got myself some bakers’ tools (bread tin and large ceramic mixing bowl) and got myself some recommendations from resident Edinburgh food geeks and baking enthusiasts.
I decided to start off with something quite simple, at least until I can get the kneading process down to a tea. After a little bit of research I found out that the art to bread is the way in which you knead the dough – basically the way you air the mixture. I wanted to try something with plain-ish flour but didn’t want to go as simple as the plain white loaf.
I decided upon a seeded granary loaf using the method of a simple white loaf. I picked up some dried yeast, wholemeal flour and a variety of seeds (caraway, pumpkin, sesame and poppy). I’ve chosen a very simple method in the hope that I can work from that method, tweaking and changing it in the future so that it works for me.
The method basically goes like this:
- Mix the ingredients (make sure to mix the yeast with lukewarm water before adding to the rest of the ingredients – to activate the yeast)
- Knead dough for 10 minutes until elastic and slightly sticky
- Roll back into a ball and place back in the mixing bowl, cover with cling film and leave to double in size for 1 hour
- Knead again for 5 minutes
- Place in a well oiled bread tin and leave to rise for another hour
- Bake for 40 minutes
I got some great tips from some bread-making experts on twitter, some that I utilised and some that I didn’t and wish I did. I set the oven on the highest heat setting for the first 10 minutes of baking the bread and sprinkled the loaf with water to create a nice little crust, these tips worked really well! It was also recommended to me that I use rapeseed oil instead of the standard olive oil in the mixture. It is said to be less heavy than standard olive oil and provides a more delicate taste. I didn’t do this as Tesco didn’t have any but I will next time to compare the difference in texture and taste. I will also be using sea salt instead of table salt for my next loaf to compare the differences.
So, the finished article. I’m overall really happy with my first attempt at baking bread. It seems that by sticking to the simplistic method I haven’t made anything more difficult than it should be and it’s something I can really work from. The bread is a great size and filled out the bread tin nicely and also had a fantastic crispy crust.
Inside the bread is textured, nutty and buttery. It is very slightly dense but I’m sure as my kneading method gets better the breads will inevitably get more air and will hopefully be lighter. It was quite messy to cut, I think if I made this loaf again I wouldn’t bother putting seeds on the top of the loaf as most of them fell off when I started cutting the bread anyway.
I’d give this loaf 6/10. It’s pretty uninspiring in terms of flavour and ingredients used and I hope to change this next month. However I’m really happy that it came out actually looking like bread and hopefully after another couple of months I can be producing top quality loafs to be proud of!
I served this bread topped with butter with a home-made creamy garlic rabbit stew that I cooked in my slow cooker for 8 hours. The perfect Sunday supper!