I have had a number of lovely people asking for my basic bread recipe on Twitter. I have cut and pasted a few times but then thought, it would be quicker to post this and allow folks to navigate here..
For basic wholemeal bread you will need:
Wholemeal flour. The best you can afford. Look for the words, 'Bread', 'Strong', 'Very', and 'Organic' doesn't hurt either.
Instant dried yeast. Any make, so 'Own Brand' will be fine.
Granulated or Caster sugar.
1/2 Pint of tepid water.
I have deliberately avoided quantities. I always start with a half a pint of water as it approximates to a coffee mugful. Just double up for two loaves etc.
|Dissolve a teaspoon of sugar in the water and pour into a large mixing bowl.|
|Add a dessertspoon or so of oil. This will give the bread a more chewy texture and help with keeping past one day. (It is patently better to bake anew but day old bread makes better toast).|
|Pour a pint jugful of flour into the bowl and mix until you have a thick batter. The consistency is not crucial and changes according to the flour you are using.|
|Add yeast to the batter and mix further|
Gradually add flour until you achieve a workable ball of dough. A handful at a time will ensure that you reach the point where it leaves the bowl sides cleanly. Add a large pinch of salt.
Kneading firmly will result in either a ball or, as here, a sausage shape. Remove from the bowl and place in a well greased tin or a baking sheet.
Now, set to one side in a warm place. A sunny windowsill is ideal. Failing that, an airing cupboard or the top of your oven as it heats up.Depending on your oven, preheat now to 180 degrees or Gas 6.
35 minutes later. Ready to put into the oven.
The consistency is characteristically open and substantial when you use wholemeal flour on it's own. A lighter sponge is achieved by balancing the whole flour with plain white and I prefer '00' pasta flour or Very Strong Bread Flour for this. It contains more gluten, requires more kneading and is less tasty. The right balance produces a lovely bread however.
Now improvise. You can add any nuts, cooked beans or dried fruit to the dough. Brushing the risen loaf with milk and sprinkling seeds on works well.
A roasting pan of water in the botom of the oven softens the crust, as does wrapping in a towel after you take it out.
If you want to take this further, I can recommend Elizabeth David's English Bread Cookery as well as the good sense afforded by Nigel Slater on the matter. Remember. The best flour = the best bread.