Its kind of embaressing to say, however our family’s daily bread is normally the $1 a loaf stupidmarket stuff because a) its cheap b) its easy and c) we go through a loaf almost every 2 days so its very convenient. Let me add that I am NOT a fan on this bread. Its too soft, its not tasty at all and I only buy it because I am a lazy bugger.
Over the past weeks I have been testing out making my own and after quite a few failures I have FINALLY figured out how to make the perfect loaf. Crusty, light and super tasty (not to mention free of all the added extras) – I may never go back to stupidmarket bread again. Its just the smell that really gets me. Just-baked, super fresh hot bread is one of those smells that gets me all excited (just like smelling leather. Ahem!).
I have tried all the pre-mix packets, the sourdough mixes (I love a good sourdough), the different yeasts and all of those things, however I have decided they are all pretty crapola and a waste of money. All you need is basic ingredients and one little extra. Bread Improver. Don’t ask me why it works – it just does.
WHAT YOU NEED
A bread machine (if you cheat like me) or a bowl, a tea towel and a warm spot for the bread to rise.
For The Yeast Mix:
6g dry yeast (1 sachet)
4 teaspoons warm water
For The Bread Mix:
3 cups SR or strong bakers OO flour
2 x teaspoons Wallaby Bread Improver (By Laucke. I’m sure there are other brands but this one works for me. Look for it in your stupidmarket).
2 teaspoons salt
1.5 tablespoons (a good glug) Olive Oil/other cooking oil
320mls lukewarm water
THE HOW TO:
Preheat your oven to 200Deg C. Ensure you have the top shelf ready for the bread (make sure its got room to rise) and the bottom shelf ready with an oven tray, to which you will add water later.
Combine your yeast sachet, sugar and warm water in a cup and give it a stir to combine. Put it aside. The yeast will eat the sugar and become all nice and fluffy and bubbly. This is what you want!
In another bowl (or your bread machine) add in the rest of your ingredients, making sure to put your dry ingredients first. So flour, salt, improver, oil, yeast mixture and finally, your water.
If using a machine – set to dough setting and walk away. Just a Note: Make sure you actually LOOK at the dough button when you press it! Otherwise – like me today you will end up with a loaf cooked IN the machine and no dough….D’Oh!! Hence why I have no nice pictures of dough balls to share with you….:(
If using your hands, gently mix in all the ingredients until well combined. Flop out onto a floured surface and knead gently. A good aim is to stretch, rather than pound your dough. Imagine you are massaging it..? Don’t over work it, just knead for about 5 mins until its stretchy and sort of elastic, then pop it back into the bowl (you may need a little flour so it doesn’t stick), cover with cling wrap or a tea towel and place in a warm spot to rise. It will take different amounts of time depending on your temp and area etc however it should double in size.
Pull it back out onto your board and gently knead again for a few minutes. Shape into your desired bread shape, stick it on a floured oven tray (or a pizza stone – mine works brilliantly for this!) and set aside, covered, to rise again.
After another 30 mins or so you should be ready to pop it straight into the oven.
If you are using a bread machine, once the dough is ready, flop it out onto your work surface and gently knead for a few minutes. Again, don’t over work it. Shape it into the desired size, pop on a tray and straight into a hot oven. I have found you don’t need to let it rise any more once its out of the machine.
Another top tip is to place a deep oven tray on your bottom oven shelf (let it heat up in your oven) and fill 1/4 with boiling water, just as you put your bread in. This ensures the oven is a little humid and gives a fabulous crust to your bread. Again, I have no idea why this works but it does make a killer crust!
Bake for about 30 – 40mins. I made one big round loaf and 35mins was perfect. If you tap on it and it sounds hollow – its done. I did find however that a slice of this loaf doesn’t fit in my toaster – which annoys the crap out of me! So i have started making it in a loaf tin instead of just on the stone and that ensures we have a nice little toaster sized slice:)
Let it rest to cool slightly and then cut yourself the yummiest, crustiest, most beautifully smelling slice of fresh bread you will have ever tasted.
Just out of interest, I did a little costing and realised that my one big round loaf (about the size of a Cob Loaf) cost me $1.60. That’s pretty awesome I think and proves just how cheap doing this can be. That loaf will last us for 2 days and its much healthier and tastier than the crappy stuipdmarket version. Even if it is a little more expensive – I’m pretty sure I can cop that:)
My next mission – should I choose to accept it is to figure out the delights of a sourdough starter. I’ll keep you posted on that one!!