What better food is there than a plate of stew or bowl of soup with warm freshly baked bread? My mouth is watering just thinking about it but most people would never dream of making it themselves, considering it too difficult to do.
Bread making is very simple when you get the hang of it, you don’t need any fancy equipment or strange ingredients, just a little patience and practice.
I have tried breadmakers but find the bread a little tough, it really is best to learn to make bread yourself, not only does it taste much better but it is also very relaxing.
It usually takes a few attempts to get it right but do not let that discourage you, once you get the hang of it you never lose the knack.
Here are 5 tips to help you with the most common mistakes made when learning to make bread at home.
The number one error in bread making is not kneading the dough for long enough. You must knead for a good 10 minutes, this is the difference between bread that melts in your mouth and bread that you can use as a doorstop. If you find this process too boring then you can knead with a food mixer (you need a dough hook attachment), use a bread making machine to do the kneading or pulse in a food processor for a minute until it forms a ball then continue kneading.
Adding too much flour (to either you hands or the table) during the kneading process will dry the dough out. Add flour sparingly as you knead, you want to achieve an elastic smooth dough.
Fresh bread is best eaten within 24 hours of being baked but who wants to knead bread every day. I make bread dough and freeze it, so it is always on hand. Once the dough is kneaded you can freeze it for up to a month, this must be done as soon as the dough is ready and before the first rising. Getting dough into plastic bags can be difficult, so simply put them in the freezer on a baking sheet for 45 minutes to start the hardening process, they will then just drop into freezer bags. To defrost, leave in the fridge overnight and then leave on the table/bench until it reaches room temperature.
Form the kneaded dough into a smooth ball, this will trap the gases inside the dough and allow the yeast to ferment during the rising. If there are breaks in the dough the gases will escape. You are not trying to form a perfect ball and will have a seam on the underside of the rounding but gases will be trapped by the bottom of the bowl you use for rising.
Bread dough needs to be covered and left in a warm place to double in size but learning when the dough is ready takes practice. Your bread making will be unsuccessful if you do not let it rise enough or allow it to rise too much (this will result in the dough collapsing). To test dough has risen properly press your thumb into the top of the dough, if the imprint remains then the dough is ready, if it disappears then it needs a little more time.
A brilliant step by step video called you can make bread is easy to follow and shows just how simple it is. I also love that they use plain flour rather than strong bread flour, this reduces the life of the bread but who wouldn’t eat fresh bread the same day.