After my disastrous first attempt at bread, I decided to call in the big guns and bought not one, but two of Paul Hollywood’s recipe books. I am so determined to get the hang of bread I sat down and read the instructions, tips, suggested baking equipment… everything I could possibly need to know about bread baking before I even thought about making a second attempt.
Turns out I was doing a LOT of things wrong – here are a few tips that I’ve learnt:
- DON’T mix the salt and the yeast: Apparently when put together they start some type of chemical party that breaks down the yeast; putting them on either side of the bowl before mixing will stop this from happening.
- DON’T use all the water stated in the ingredients: it is generally accurate but won’t always be perfect. What I do now is pour a little bit more than the recommended amount. Then pour the water bit by bit, stopping whenever the dough is soft and a bit sticky, but not soggy.
- DON’T use a lot of flour for dusting: this really dries out your dough. Great tip is to use a little bit of olive oil instead (I use around 1-2 tablespoons); it doesn’t dry up your dough, and doesn’t stick. Perfect!
Once I got the theory down, I went back to basics and tried my hand at a simple loaf. I followed the instructions perfectly, and left the dough to rise twice (something else I didn’t do first time round.)
I could already see a difference after the first ‘proving’ stage; the dough had risen so much! It was a lot smoother and easier to work with.
After the second proving stage I put a roasting tin full of boiling water into the oven, and the dough on the shelf on top. After 10 minutes, that delectable bread-baking smell wafted into the living room leaving our tummy’s rumbling; 20 minutes after that and I was tapping the bottom of my bread to see if it was ready.
I was good and waited an hour before I cut myself a slice of bread. The crust was lovely and crunchy, and the inside was baked to perfection. YES!!!!
Furthermore, it tastes amazing! Homemade bread is so much nicer than any shop bought rubbish. My first loaf didn’t last very long; in fact it lasted about a day and a half. Since then I’ve made a dozen loaves and they’ve all been perfect; white bread, wholemeal bread, 50/50 – no matter what mix you use, this recipe always works.