I’m not someone who has ever baked a lot. As a singleton it’s tricky because you can’t really share your creation with anyone unless you’re incredibly brave and take it to work. After struggling to eat other peoples efforts and smile through the dry mouthfuls of sponge, I wouldn’t want to foist my feeble attempts at cakes or brownies on anyone. So it’s a real ‘catch 22’ situation, you don’t practice then you don’t improve.
The only alternative is to eat it all. I struggle enough in the weight department, baking a batch of cookies all for myself is just not something I need to encourage. If I had the metabolism I’d be chowing down on chocolate cheesecake 24/7 but I just have to look at a slice and I gain 3lbs.
So here we are in lockdown and I am now joining in the millions of people who have decided to bake bread. Loaves generally contain fewer calories than cakes and I also have a little more willpower around bread.
There is something truly satisfying about kneading warm dough, letting it rise and crafting the perfect loaf. It’s a form of relaxation and therapy and it’s also creative and essential food. For a lot if people it’s still not easy to go and just buy a loaf right now.
Today was the best creation so far.
I’d decided to try a mix of wholemeal and white flour for the optimum blend. My yeast was dried but from a newly opened tin and the water was slightly too warm but it all worked together perfectly. I also ditched the loaf tin and opted for a springform cake tin instead, oiled and heavily floured. When I baked, I placed a roasting tin of water in the bottom of the oven. The result was light with a crisp crust and beautifully dusted finish.
This is the fourth lockdown loaf I’ve made and definitely the best so far.
I’m not sharing it with anyone.
350g wholemeal flour and 150g plain flour, 5g dried yeast, 5g salt, 350ml warm water.
To make the dough, combine dried yeast and warm water. Mix salt with the two flours and gradually add the water in small amounts. When a dough begins to form, stop adding water.
Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface. Begin to work and knead the dough for 8-10 minutes until it tightens and comes together. The dough is ready when it comes away from the table cleanly and has a little stretch to it.
Transfer the dough into a bowl. Cover with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place until it has doubled in size. This will take at least 1 hour.
Knead it for another 5 minutes. Grease and flour your loaf tin and place the portion of dough into it. Cover again and leave to prove in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 250˚C/gas mark 9. You can brush lightly with water or egg wash but I floured mine and slashed it for extra crunch on top.
Place in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown. Dont forget the pan of water at the bottom of the oven. A good method to test if the bread is ready is to tap the loaf on the base and listen for a hollow sound. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes if the bread is not ready. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool before serving