The Basic Bread
|Warm water||1 1⁄2 Pint (850 Milliliter)|
|Dried yeast||1⁄2 Ounce (15 Gram)|
|Raw cane sugar||2 Tablespoon|
|Whole meal flour||3 Pound (1 1/3 Kilogram)|
|Sea salt||1 Tablespoon|
|Vegetable oil||2 Tablespoon|
1) Use warm water to warm the bread bowl which is 10-inches in diameter.
2) Into the warmed bowl, put the measured water. Ensure that the water is not above 115 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature or the yeast will be killed.
3) Add the sugar and yeast and stir a bit. There is no need to allow the mixture to stand.
4) Immediately start adding the four, continuously stirring and adding more flour till a thick and creamy consistency is achieved. This is known as the sponge stage and generally half of the flour is used. The amount of water initially used, when this method is being followed, determines the total amount of flour needed as the flour needs to be added till the correct consistency is achieved. Different flours vary in their ability to absorb water and therefore it is actually impossible to give an exact flour quantity, and also quite unnecessary.
5) With a large spoon, beat or whisk for some minutes to incorporate as much air into the dough as possible. This helps the yeast with their work.
6) Allow dough to stand and rise in a warm draught-free place. During the summer months, almost anywhere in the kitchen would be warm enough but during the winter, a warmer place needs to be found. An ideal place is the top of an Aga or some other solid fuel stove. Generally, the dough will rise the required amount in 20 to 30 minutes and it should not be left any longer.
7) All over the dough, sprinkle the salt and pour the oil.
8) With a large spoon or spatula, fold in more flour, working around the edges of the dough rather than cutting into it. Keep adding more flour till the dough becomes dry enough to be easily handled.
9) Generously dust your hands and the table with flour and turn out the dough onto the tale. At this point, there is a good chance that the dough is in several small pieces mixed with some dry flour. The aim is to knead all the pieces together into a single solid lump. When required, keep adding more flour to keep the dough from sticking to the hands or the table. It should stay fairly workable and moist.
10) Once the required amount of flour has been incorporated into the dough, stop kneading and put the dough back into the bowl. Leave it in a warm place till it has doubled in size. This generally takes about 20 to 40 minutes. One way of testing the readiness of the dough is to make a small depression into the dough with the knuckles. If the depression goes away after about a minute, the dough is done.
11) With a few kneading actions, compress the dough and cut it into three portions. Press the cut edges of each together and work in so as to leave just one seam along each loaf’s bottom. Oil the tins or baking sheet properly. If tins are being used, the dough at this stage should half fill them.
12) Once again, leave the bread in a warm place to allow it to rise. Once the bread has risen, transfer it very gently to the center of an oven which has been freshly lit. Bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes and remove bread from the oven once it is done. Allow to cool for some minutes.
13) By tapping on the bottom of the loaf, ensure that the bread is cooled. The tapping should make a hollow sound. In case the loaf does not detach easily, slide a knife gently around the edges to making removing easier. If a thick crust is preferred on the sides, the loafs can be put in the oven for another 5 minutes. Cool the bread on a wire rack. Slice the bread once it is only slightly warm.
14) Serve and use as required.
The tins which have been used a few times do not pose a problem of sticking. It is, therefore, a good idea to oil and bake new tines empty for a few times before baking bread in them.
It is pretty easy to learn the technique of kneading. Take a lump of dough and with the hells of the hands, flatten it by pressing it away. A rough circle is now formed by the dough which should be folded into a half to make a semi-circle. Turn the semi-circle horizontally a quarter of a turn and push down once again and fold back. Repeat the same over and over again till the technique is perfected. Once learned, kneading can be done pretty rapidly and with practice, the actions which at first seem separate tend to merge together in a continuous flow.