There was something holding me back from feeling like a complete rounded adult human being. It was the hurdle I created in my mind about making bread. Surely this is a basic human skill, since as far back as goodness knows when, we’ve been baking bread in the simplest of conditions. Why did it seem so hard?! So technical, so complicated?! So many stages, so much science. What if the yeast doesn’t activate? How will I know if the dough is right? How do you knead the dough? How will I know when it’s baked?!
My advice now I have succeeded and broken my bread making cherry? Don’t sweat it! It’s much easier than it at first seems and the ingredients play their own role in succeeding, you’re just the hands that place them.
Also, follow an easy recipe! On average it takes me 6 months to get stuck into a new recipe book and the same is true for James Morton’s ‘Brilliant Bread’. James, the one that bakes, picks apart bread making, explaining all the sciency bits & making it accessible for the novice. His brilliant book is paced as a bit of a home study course on bread making, starting at the basics and building up to more adventurous challenges.
As somebody who only purchased scales for the first time 2 weeks ago (£3 in a charity shop!) I have converted the majority of my recipes to cups in favour of grams and millilitres. I was naturally drawn to the ‘Mug – or anywhere – Bread’ for portability and being able to make wherever in the world you are as long as you have scales, salt, yeast and an oven! (The recipe is also available on his blog).
Although you’re here to read my version of it right?! I took his confidence boosting no-nonsense approach to heart and straight away went slightly off piste, introducing some spelt flour to the mix and lo-and-behold, by jove, it worked!
2 1/4 mugs of strong flour (I used 1 & 3/4 plain white flour and 1/2 mug of spelt)
enough salt to cover the bottom of the mug (I used himalayan pink salt)
1 x 7g sachet of yeast
1 mug of tepid water (brilliantly described as tepid if you put your fingers in and can’t tell if it’s hot or cold)
Step 1: Choose your mug! Measure out the flour into a bowl, add the salt and rub in, add the yeast sachet and also rub in
Step 2: Add the water to the flour dry ingredients and use one hand to mix it into a rough, wet dough.
Step 3: Cover the dough with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave to rest for 40 minutes, until it has expanded a bit.
Step 4: Once the dough has rested, fill your mug with water & use it to wet your fingers and stop them from sticking as you slide your fingers underneath the dough and firmly fold it in half. Rotate the dough and fold it in half again, rotate & fold, rotate & fold, and keep going until you feel like you have forced all the air out and made a smaller, smooth ball.
Step 5: Cover and rest again for an hour or until it’s doubled in size. This is a good opportunity to pop the dough in the fridge and leave to rest over night so you can have fresh bread in the morning, or when your hungry guests arrive, fresh from early morning lake swimming!