The Dreaded Loaf!

If I’m honest, I’m not sure where to start with this one! I have even surprised myself with how much baking I have done over the last 7 days!

Towards the beginning of the week, I tried my hand at making triple chocolate cookies – a complete accident I might add, as once I started making the basic cookie dough, I worked out I didn’t have enough chocolate, which is how it came to be triple chocolate (a few remaining strips of white, milk and plain chocolate as well as a dash of chocolate powder!) They turned out pretty scrummy so I wasn’t complaining! (Keep an eye out for the tutorial!)

Next came the Peppermint Oreo Bark courtesy of Wine & Glue which was great fun to make (even with it’s challenges) and tasted amazing!

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The bakes to come: Scones, Shortbread, Mint Oreo Bark (check out my last post, you won’t be disappointed), Chocolate Chunk Blondies & Triple Chocolate Cookies!

Then over the weekend, with the company of the ‘in-laws’ we decided on an ‘afternoon tea’ style lunch, which consisted of a whole morning baking bread rolls, a loaf and some scones. Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without something cakey, so out came the chocolate chunk (dark) blondies and sugary shortbread! Sunday ended up being a complete blur of flour and sugary treats, but I shouldn’t complain, it was all delicious and I would make it all again tomorrow!

So whilst typing all of this, I think I may start with the dreaded loaf!

I have to confess I really am no bread maker. I made my first Cheesy Farmhouse Loaf with the help of Mary Berry’s recipe book earlier on in the year, which if I’m honest,  turned out pretty great! Unfortunately though, the times that followed certainly did not turn out the same (I put it down to beginners luck!) So when I decided on the whole ‘afternoon tea’ style lunch, secretly I was a little worried we would all be sucking on hard rolls and eating a stodgy loaf!

I’m not sure about you, but when I am trying something new I tend to stick completely to the recipe – turns out that may not be the best thing to do! As I really don’t make that much bread, I was surprised to learn that different flours absorb the water at different speeds. My bread flour is quite high in protein which meant that it absorbs the water at a quicker rate, and will generally need more then what is stated on the recipe. With this in mind, and with the help of my partners mother, I completely changed the way I usually make bread and I couldn’t have been more happy with the results!

Fancy making a nice fresh loaf this weekend?

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pint of warm water (you can warm in the microwave for about 1 minute)
  • 1kg of strong bread flour
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp instant dried yeast

Method:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, pour in the warm water, salt, sugar, oil, yeast and flour (in that exact order!)
  2. I am lucky enough to own a KitchenAid so was able to mix all the ingredients together with ease. (Just make sure to check how much flour your motor in the appliance can take – it may be less then a kilo). If you have the same or similar, I would recommend mixing on a lower speed for 10 minutes and then another 10 minutes on a faster speed. If the dough becomes a little dry, add a little extra warm water – when I made mine I needed an extra ounce or so to keep the nice and wet.
  3. Then, remove the dough and knead until smooth and elastic – you shouldn’t need to knead this for a long time, perhaps an extra 5 minutes by hand. You shouldn’t need any extra flour either, but if you need to use it, do!
  4. Once you’re happy with the dough, return to the bowl and cover with cling film. Put to one side for about an hour in a warm room, perhaps a little longer – it all depends on the temperature!
  5. After about an hour you will have noticed that the dough would have doubled in size! Turn out and gently knead to form a ball.wpid-PhotoEditor-1417972256350.jpg
  6. I used the dough to make both a loaf and a few bread rolls – divide the mixture into 2 halves and use the one half to form the loaf, and the other half divided into about 8 pieces to form balls by gathering up the edges of the dough and bringing to the middle.
  7. Turn over so top is smooth and place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, allowing room for expansion – if you leave the dough to rise again for about 30 minutes they should double in size.wpid-PhotoEditor-1417972199064.jpg
  8. Heat the oven to 200c and bake the rolls in the oven for about 15 minutes until the tops are a lovely golden colour.
  9. For the loaf, bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes, again until golden brown on top. To test if the loaf is bake, remove from the bread tin and tap the bottom of the loaf – it should sound hallow. Also, the sides and bottom should have browned as well to that lovely golden colour.
  10. Transfer onto a wire rack to cool and there you have it!

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I ended up using the loaf to make Sunday afternoon sandwiches, and the rolls for an evening meal with pulled pork and homemade potato wedges! A lot of bread was consumed last weekend, but when it tasted as good as it did, who wouldn’t! And to me, there is nothing better then a warm, fresh loaf!

I can’t wait to try again and experiment with different types of loaves and rolls with a variety of different flavours and textures! Fingers crossed for another successful bread making session :)

Have you any bread making experience you would like to share? What is your favourite loaf to bake?

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