I like baking bread, I like eating it, especially covered in butter, I like feeding bread to my family. I generally follow my Mum’s 3 Loaf Recipe as it’s easy and there are multiple ways in which you can adapt it to make it more interesting, more wholesome or more delicious. I never get tired of it and every time I cook it the loaves are always slightly different. Also, my more literary colleague Elly has told me that today is Fornicalia (apparently; it’s the festival of Fornax, Roman goddess of baking and the hearth), so it would seem appropriate to get all bakey. Right, enough faffing, let’s get to the basics.
The important thing about this recipe is experimenting with it. I sometimes use half wholewheat half white flour, sometimes I use spelt, sometimes I do a white loaf. I would recomend putting a small amount of white flour in with wholewheat, as a mix made with just wholewheat can be a bit heavy. The same kind of mucking around can happen with the liquid – it can just be water, but how boring is that? I often add a dollop of yogurt and make up the rest of the liquid with water, or I use milk for a really rich, creamy bread. Also, the addition of an egg in the liquid really makes the bread taste incredible, but quite different from your usual loaf. I use dried yeast as it’s easier and keeps for longer. If you’re using ones in a sachet I think it’s normally about 2 sachets…but check! Also, don’t panic. Bread is weird and half art half science so it can go wrong. BE PATIENT! This is key. I’m always in a rush to get on with it and often don’t let the bread rise properly or don’t knead it for long enough. The resulting loaves are edible, but can come apart in strange ways and are an unsatisfying alternative. I’m going to doing variations on this recipe over the coming weeks so will post pictures of the results. Good luck with your efforts, and if you get really stuck I’m going to add a No Need to Knead recipe really soon.
1 3/4 pints fluid
1tblsp olive oil
3 tsps dried yeast
Add the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl. Stir so they are thoroughly combined.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and add the liquid along with the olive oil. (Don’t add all the liquid until you know you need it).
Mix together, I use a knife, until the dough starts to cling together and there is no loose flour in the bowl. If you need to add the rest of the liquid at this point, do.
Once the dough is thoroughly mixed and staying together, put onto a floured surface and start to knead. Now, everyone has their own style, but just keep going until the dough doesn’t stick to you, the counter top or anything else that’s been left lying around. The dough should be springy and you can pull the outer skin out and it retracts, slowly.
Put into a bowl with olive oil and roll around until thoroughly coated, then leave to rise. This can take from half an hour to over an hour and a half depending on how hot your kitchen is.
Once the dough has doubled in size knock the dough back down (i.e. do a small amount of kneading) then seperate into 3 lumps of dough (use the scales if you’re really anal).
Knead these 3 dough balls and shape into an oblong-ish shape then place gently into well-oiled bread tins. Leave to rise so that the dough touches all sides and is well visible over the top of the tin. Whilst doing this pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees.
Once risen, put the loaves in at this high temperature for 20 mins then lower the temperature to 180. Give them another 20 mins and then check to see if they’re done. Take the loaf out of the tin and knock it on its bottom, it should sound hollow. If the bottoms look a bit aneamic take them out of the tins and put them back in bottoms up and let them brown a bit more. It depends how crispy you like your loaf.
Once done leave to cool on a drying rack and then try not to eat them all at once. I normally freeze two of the loaves and that keeps us going for quite a while.