what? bread?

a blog about making bread at home

Archive for the tag “flour”

National real bread maker week and disappointment in Waitrose

Just a little plug for the Campaign for Real Bread’s National Bread Maker Week.

“Real Bread Maker Week is Britain’s biggest annual, national celebration of Real Bread and its makers.

Its aim is to encourage people to get baking Real Bread or buying it from independent bakeries to support their local communities.

This year, as well as raising awareness for Real Bread, we knead your help raising cash.

The Real Bread Campaign has great new plans to help people who, for one reason or another, have a tougher time than most of us enjoy the social, therapeutic and employment opportunities Real Bread making offers, but we need the dough to do it!

Can we count on your support?”

If you’ve never made bread why not try – you’ll be surprised how easy it can be. I’ve suggested lots of recipes on various pages of the blog, or search for Dan Lepard’s recipes as a very easy way into making bread at home.

Still not convinced? Then why not try your local independent café or bakers or farmers market and see what they make and check out the difference between factory-made bread and bread made locally.

If you’ve never bought flour from a local miller, then why not search one out. To coincide with the week there’s a number of water and wind powered mills open. Check out this list and see if you can find one to visit this weekend. We had a fab visit to Mill Green in Hertfordshire recently, we learned a lot and got some great flour. If you can’t get out there’s some deals on mail-order flour on the campaign website.

Disappointment in Waitrose? They have opened a spangly new supermarket near us and it doesn’t have an in-store bakers. They’ve just got ovens to give factory prepared loaves a suntan. A real opportunity missed by Waitrose.

Me? I’ve been baking sourdough again – got a lovely sweet starter going right now and I bake it with white and wholemeal flour. The warmer weather still means it takes about 10 hours to do its stuff, but it’s been great, but doesn’t seem to hang about long enough to get a photo taken. And I’ve been doing a bit of biking too for my LondonSurrey 100 mile event, so haven’t had a lot of time at weekends to do much baking. But least I use the calories I’m scoffing the rest of the week.

Baguettes the Daily Mail way

Words I’d never thought of putting together. But the Daily Mail newspaper kindly published a little booklet with some bread and other baked goods recipes adapted from How to Make Bread by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. I don’t have the book so can’t comment on what the adaptations might be or whether the book is any good but the recipes in the booklet seem straightforward enough. They don’t appear to be available online (although I’m happy to be corrected). What is nice about them is that they generally make a 1lb loaf size, which if you are new to trying to make bread might be enough and not too scary or expensive in terms of time or resources. When I’m trying recipes I often half or third or quarter to get a small amount to prove the concept. So good on the Daily Mail for starting small.

I wanted to try the baguettes after criticising that Paul Hollywood for dousing his in olive oil. This recipe only has yeast, salt, water and flour. You make a poolish (love the word, but it is something that can be off-putting, all that new lingo – I prefer the term sponge). Now here’s a case when the recipe says ‘leave over night’ and then ‘next day’. I really hate it when they aren’t precise about timings. So do I make it last thing at night and get on with it when I wake up? Can I leave it until I get home from work? I decided to make the sponge this morning, giving it about 7 hours until I got home from work and the school run before I did the next stage.

So the sponge is a bit of flour, a tiny bit of yeast and some warm water. 1g of active or instant yeast (2g of fresh) 125ml warm water, 125g flour.

The recipe calls for plain flour, but I’ve gone with the strong white bread flour, for no other reason that they didn’t explain why it should be plain flour. I know there’s a difference between French flour and ours, which is I think because the French flour has lower protein but we’re going to have to go with it for today. I’ve used the French flour from Shipton Mill before, and really must get some more.  There’s a picture below of what it looked like when I added the other things. Then you add more water, yeast, flour and the salt. 155ml warm water, 1g of active or instant yeast (2g of fresh), 300g flour, 1 tsp salt (and I did go all the way as it isn’t far off the 1% salt we  be targeting).

The recipe uses the Dan Lepard approach of bringing it all together, leaving 10 mins, kneading briefly, and then doing all that another 3 times. Nice! I made a marmalade cake in the rests. Pictures below of the dough after the kneads.

Then it is left for an hour. Divided, folded, rested, rolled out, and left to rise. There’s lots of rising time because there’s only about half a teaspoon of (fresh) yeast in the whole thing, so the rising is made nice and slow.

Then baked really hot at 260C for about 10-15 minutes, in a steamed oven.

So, what do we have? Long, brown bread sticks, made without fat of any kind. Got a bit of oven spring out of them, but could have done with more. Could also have been a bit more crunchy, so also maybe proving a bit longer, but will do nicely for sandwiches tomorrow.

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Paul Hollywood’s Bloomer

First of all, it’s my blog’s birthday. what?bread? is one year old today. Thank you to everyone who’s ever taken a peak and I hope you’ve found what you’ve come looking for. If not, please leave a message or ask a question.

This month is going well and I hope to continue for another year at least! The public image of baking has gone from strength to strength this year with the rise of the Great British Bake Off and most recently the spin-off programme with Paul Hollywood.

The BBC has kindly asked the Silver Fox of Great British Bake-Off to put his money where his mouth his and make some programmes to show viewers how to make bread. If you’ve not seen the first episode, you can catch it on BBC i-player.

The first episode starts with a bloomer, followed swiftly by a ploughman’s loaf (lots of lovely brown flour and rye and oat topping), a malt loaf (versatile and could be made into a sort of bread and butter pudding), and a ‘trencher’ to use as a base for some lamb steaks and greenery. That’s all squeezed into half an hour alongside a nice look at a farmer and a miller who have a great working relationship near St Albans at Redbournbury.

I found it all quite exhausting to watch as Paul got stuck in to mixing and kneading, and boy does he knead strong, sometimes one in each hand! To the extent that I stopped watching what he was doing and started taking in the aesthetics of his kitchen and the slightly bonkers range of mixing bowls he had to use. It looked like the set designer had been given the run of John Lewis and got one of every type of bowl that looked like it would hold water. So the bloomer was mixed in a wooden bowl that looked like a salad bowl, then there’s a pyrex bowl for it to rise in, the ploughman’s loaf is made at the bakery at Redbournbury and is mixed in whatever they had, then back to Paul’s own kitchen for a nice white glazed bowl for the malt loaf, and then a blue coated steel bowl for the trencher.

However, that all sounds a bit mean, and you can find other reviews of the programme on the web.

So what about the bread? Well you can get the recipes online from the BBC, which is really what I pay my license fee for. I think they’ve tried to make the ingredients nice and simple, which is good, and so far only using instant yeast. They don’t give conversions for fresh yeast, so if you try them you’ll have to remember that you need approximately double the weight of fresh yeast.

One thing did strike me as not being quite as it should be and that was the amount of salt that is used. The basic bloomer has 10g of salt to 500g white flour, and that’s twice the amount recommended by the Real Bread Campaign for home bakers to use. I usually follow the advice of the campaign and use approximately one teaspoon per large loaf. I’ve made Paul’s bloomer and it really is quite salty. If your palate is used to store-bought bread you’ll probably find it too salty as most large retailers have reduced the salt in the bread that goes into supermarkets.

In Real Bread and industrial loaf baking salt in small quantities helps to:

  • Enhance flavour – if a loaf isn’t hanging about the kitchen for too long while it is rising, then it obviously helps to put some taste in.
  • Strengthen the gluten network
  • Aid the browning process
  • Act as a natural preservative – although I find real bread doesn’t hang about in our house and this isn’t a reason we need salt in our bread

I’ve written another blog about salt in bread to give a bit more information. Click here.

Also Paul’s recipe has approximately twice the amount of yeast you’ll usually find in recipes for baking white bread at home, so it rises quickly even though he says to use cold water. If your kitchen is quite warm and your water isn’t too cold it’ll probably go off like a rocket and you’ll get a good result. All of this mitigates against leaving the dough to rise slowly to enhance the flavour. The recipe uses olive oil, which is obviously not a traditional ingredient in British bloomers, and can be quite flavourful in it’s own right, so using extra salt doesn’t seem necessary to me.

So last night, in between other things, I made a loaf strictly according the Paul Hollywood method, including muscular kneading, and another by the Dan Lepard method. I really should have started the Dan Lepard loaf first, but didn’t think ahead enough to do that. Both turned out OK. The Paul Hollywood bloomer rose a lot and has a nice open soft crumb. The Dan loaf didn’t want to rise too fast, I think the kitchen was a bit cold, or maybe the packet yeast was a bit old, and in the end I had to bake it because it was getting late, it did spring quite well in the oven but didn’t get as large as the Paul Hollywood version.

I’ve had lots of people searching for the bloomer and problems and ending up on my blog so there’s a ‘trouble shooting’ page here too.

I’ll be trying the other recipes when I get the chance, in the meantime, if you want to give it go, do go ahead but go easy on the salt.

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Paul Hollywood Bloomer followed by a Dan Lepard style Bloomer


the one about the einkorn

I can’t remember why I bought it but I did buy a pack of Dove’s Farm organic Einkorn flour. As an ‘ex archaeologist’  I sometimes get to thinking that I ought not to be an ‘ex archaeologist’ and put to use some of the skills and knowledge I used to use with some of the ones I have developed more recently. Baking bread makes me very happy and being able to make sourdough bread puts me in mind of our long departed ancestors who didn’t go to Tesco’s bread counter and blag industrial yeast but had to make do with what they had in their natural environment. I haven’t quite got round to building a wood fired bread oven in the garden in River Cottage style but am still making do with the electric oven. Here are two loaves that use all the modern technology but use some ancient style grains.

Dove’s Farm says of their flour –

“Einkorn or triticum monococcum, was the original wheat, developed over 20,000 years ago. We have been growing einkorn on our farm since 2008 and think the flour is perfect for bread baking. It grows on tall stalks which are distinguished by their short, flat, two row seed head which enclose small grains in an inedible husk. After harvest we remove the husk and mill the grain into a soft golden flour on our millstones.

Einkorn Flour makes great rustic style breads and pizza bases either on its own or blended half and half with white bread flour. Add baking powder to einkorn to make artisan style cakes.”

So, while the OH and the offspring were enjoying the delights of Silverstone and I was blogging the last Mellow Baker’s effort I had a couple of loaves of einkorn 50:50 with white flour on the go. The flour is not so coarse as some wholemeals and spelt flours that I have used. At 100% it could be a bit stodgy but at 50:50 it is just lovely. I’ll leave doing the sourdough version for another day.

And here they are. If I eat any more I won’t have any of the deficit left that I worked up by running this morning.

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