It has been a while since I posted here, so have a couple of quick and simple bread recipes that I used at the school wellbeing day…
Yeah. Wellbeing day. A whole day off-timetable, no kids, spend the time getting to know your fellow teachers and partaking of some fun activities. First up, laughter yoga. Keep an open mind, the email said, giving nothing away. Now, don’t know about you but I’m old enough and cynical enough that when someone says “Keep an open mind”, my mental blast doors slam closed faster than Han Solo can say “Close the blast doors” and, yeah. Anyway. Moving on.
Next up was my leading a dozen other teachers through making a couple of different breads. The recipes below, in fact. Showed them that making bread is nothing to be scared of, that there’s not a lot of actual hands-on time, and that the whole thing, start to finish, can be done easily in a couple of hours.
Big shared lunch (see cheesecake recipes elsewhere on here for my contribution, 3 of them), and then an afternoon walking around Ferry Meadows in Peterborough. Cold, windy, flat-ish.
Bread, take 1 – Soda Bread
- 500g flour – 250g plain white flour, 125g plain wholemeal, 125g of sometbing more interesting – Khorasan, Spelt, Rye, Buckwheat. I find Khorasan works really well.
- 1tsp salt – I use sea or rock salt here, it ends up migrating into the crust. Gorgeous. If you’ve got smoked or chilli salt, even better.
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda. Clue is in the name.
- 420ml buttermilk. Or thereabouts. I’ve never got the stuff in the house so, I cheat…
- Make the buttermilk. Take 200ml full-fat milk, add roughly 20ml lemon juice (a tablespoon and a bit). Mix. Leave it for 10-15 minutes. Hey presto, buttermilk.
- Weigh out your flours, put them in a bowl. Add the salt and soda.
- Mix everything together into a wet dough. And it will be a sticky one. So add a bit more plain wholemeal flour and mix a little more. You don’t knead this bread, you don’t want to rile the gluten.
- Lightly flour a baking tray and turn your dough out onto it. Shape into a ball.
- Grab a dough cutter if you’ve got one and cut your ball into 4 quarters, lightly flouring the cuts. If you’ve not got a cutter, a butterknife should do the job.
- Leave the dough to rise a little, 10-15 minutes again (enough time to mark some homework!) and then put your oven on to 200°C.
- Bake for ~35 minutes
- When the time’s up, test the bread – turn the loaf over and tap the bottom. If it sounds hollow and drum-like, you’re golden. Put it on a rack to cool and wait as long as you can be patient before cutting a slice off and slathering it with butter.
Total hands-on time, about 5 minutes. Total time, end-to-end, about an hour.
On wellbeing day, 4 bakers out of the dozen chose to make soda bread, each using a different one of the alternative grains. And we got 4 superb loaves, some of which even made it to the bring-and-share lunch!
Bread, take 2 – Single-rise white loaf
A lot of people think bread is complicated and time-consuming. This recipe proves otherwise. Quality white bread in about an hour and a half.
- 500g strong white flour. Best for bread making
- 1 sachet instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 300ml warm water
We’re going to give this bread every opportunity, every chance, to rise and do well. So, without further ado…
- Mix together the warm water, yeast, honey, and oil. Much like the buttermilk-making, if you leave this for 10-15 minutes the yeast will activate, the mixture will froth up, and everything will be ready to rock and roll when you start mixing.
- Give the flour 30 seconds in the microwave, heat it up, so the yeast isn’t given a cold shock when it meets the flour.
- Now mix everything together and knead it in the bowl until it pulls away from the side. The more you knead, the nicer your bread will be. A good 5 minutes at least. Of course, if you’ve a Kenwood with a dough hook, whack it in there and ignore it for those minutes.
- Take your dough and split it roughly 2/3-1/3. We’re going to make a cob. Shape both parts into balls, place the smaller atop the larger, oil two fingers and deeply finger your balls (sorry, Bake Off and Pottery Throwdown both contain these single-entendres).
- Leave to rise for about half an hour. Oven to 200°C.
- Bake for, again, about 35 minutes and test in a similar way.
- This time, you’ll need jam or marmalade, I reckon.
This, too, was successful. None of the bakers wanted to share!
So there you go. Bread. Quick, straightforward, plenty of time to do other things while fresh bread is rising, or cooking and filling the house with a mouth-watering smell of things delicious. If you’ve got faster ways to bake fresh bread from scratch, I want to know.