I don’t think anyone will disagree with me if I say that from the moment I could hold a wooden spoon I’ve never been able to put them down. My passion for baking came from my love of eating the piping hot treasures that would come out of the oven, and even more so from the euphoric look on my friends and families faces as their eyes light up like the nights sky as they said ‘ok, ok, just one more and I’ll be done’, as the inevitably devoured third and fourth helpings of my baked treats.
Baking has always come naturally to me and I’ve always had the best teachers – from my Granny’s cooking lessons to my mums constant stream of effortless treats that would parade out of the kitchen every time we had any sort of guest.
So now, my aim in life is to master the savory glory that is bread. From a standard white cottage loaf or wholemeal grain, to the more ‘exotic’ flavours of focaccia, sourdough, ciabatta, brioche, rye, bagel, pita, and any other bread my journey takes me on. Here is my journey…
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups Strong Stone Ground Wholemeal Bread Flour
The How To
1.) In a large bowl, stir together warm water, yeast, and sugar. To get the water at the right temperature, I used 3/4 boiling water and 1/4 from the tap. I then used my dad’s toffee making thermometer which was given to him by his mother to watch the temperature fall to 110 degrees F / 45 degrees C. NOTE: it’s just a normal food thermometer.
2.) Place a damp tea towel over the bowl and let the mix stand in a warm place (like the airing cupboard) for about 10 minutes – until it’s creamy on top.
3.) To the yeast mixture, add the oil, salt, and 2 cups flour and mix with a wooden spoon
4.) Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl.
5.) Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
6.) Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with your damp tea towel and put it back in your airing cupboard. Let it rise in your warm place for about one hour – until doubled in volume.
7.) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to deflate the dough.
8.) Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces, and roll it into round balls.
9.) Place on lightly greased baking sheets at least 2 inches apart.
10.) Cover the rolls with a damp cloth, and pop then in your warm place to rise until they’ve doubled in volume – for about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 355 Fahrenheit in a fan assisted oven.
11.) Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. To check they’re ready, take one off the baking tray and knock on the bottom of the bun. If it sounds hollow, they’re ready!