Tuesday, 5 February 2013

# 321 Fresh yeast bread

There's something very satisfying about baking your own bread and contrary to what many people think it's not at all difficult or time consuming. It is true that the proving and baking take a while but you can always use those periods of time to do something else.

Depending on the day of the week I'm baking and on what I need to do I use the proving time to go and do my shopping (usually on Saturday mornings), go for a walk if the weather is nice, clean and tidy up, check and answer emails, etc. Baking takes usually 30 to 40 minutes and I usually find something to do around the house or read for a while. This way it doesn't feel as if bread making has taken up most of my day and I get other things done at the same time.

This bread was made with fresh yeast instead of the fast action one and the result was great, the bread tasted better, more yeasty and had a better consistency too. I buy it through the local bakery, they order it in for me and it costs 30p for 2 oz which is enough to make 2 to 3 loafs depending on the recipe you're using. I also use the stand mixer to combine all ingredients to form the dough and then I knead it by hand.

Fresh yeast bread (basic recipe)

500g strong bread flour *
315ml tepid water **
15g fresh yeast **
Pinch of salt

Dissolve the yeast in the tepid water.

Pour the flour into the bowl of your stand mixer. Add a pinch of salt and open a well in the middle of the flour. Pour in the water and yeast mixture.

Mix all ingredients with the dough hook until well combined into a ball of dough. Tip the dough on to a work surface and knead by hand for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough feels smooth and elastic, it shouldn't be sticky. Dust the bowl with flour and put the dough inside, cover with clingfilm and set aside to prove until it doubles in volume.

If you want proving to be quicker place the bowl with the dough in a warm place and set your timer for about an hour, that should be enough for the dough to double in volume. Proving can also be done at room temperature and depending on the temperature of the room it may take a little longer.

Knock back the dough, knead for about 30 seconds, shape it and place in the tin or tray of your choice. Prove a 2nd time until doubled in volume and then bake in a preheated oven to 180 ÂșC for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.

I always line my tin or tray with baking paper as I find it easier to then remove the bread from the tin.

* When weighing out the flour you can use only one type of flour or a mixture, I like to mix strong white flour with brown or wholemeal flour and when I do that I usually weigh 300g strong white flour and 200g brown or wholemeal.

**  The amount of water and yeast depends on the type of flour you use. If using strong brown or wholemeal flour you may need to slightly increase the quantity of liquid and yeast used. For this loaf made with strong brown flour I used 20g fresh yeast and added a little more water. When adding more liquid it's best to do it in very small quantities so the dough does not become too wet.