Thursday, 8 April 2010

Basic Bread (wholemeal)

For wholemeal bread, one rising is enough. Fresh yeast can be bought from specialist grocers and whole foods shops, and from real bakeries where they bake on site, or ask for it for free from the Tesco in-store bakery.


for three large loaves:
4 1/2 lbs wholemeal flour
6 tsps salt
2 oz lard
2 1/4 pints of warm water (see below)
1 oz of fresh yeast creamed with 1 tsp of sugar (see below)
Optional: a spoonful of malt extract or molasses

or for two large loaves:
3 lbs wholemeal flour
4 tsp salt
1 1/2 oz lard
1 1/2 pints of water
1 oz of fresh yeast creamed with sugar as above
Optional: a spoonful of malt extract or molasses

  1. Put the yeast in a small cup and add a teaspoon of white sugar. Stir the sugar in firmly and put it aside. It will become runny after a few minutes.
  2. Put the flour into a large mixing bowl (it needs to be very large, i.e. washing up bowl size, for the larger quantities)
  3. Add the salt
  4. Rub in the lard.
  5. Measure up the water as follows: boil the kettle and pour approximately one third boiling water and two thirds cold water from the tap into the measuring jug (or each time you fill the jug if it takes more than one filling).
  6. Pour most of this water into the flour, reserving a small amount to add to the yeast.
  7. Pour the small measure of water into the cup of liquid yeast/sugar. Stir and add this yeast and water to the flour. (The water added directly to the yeast MUST not be too hot. The other water can be a little hotter since it will be cooled by the flour before the yeast gets there, especially on a cold day, and making the dough quite warm will speed up rising).
  8. Roll up your sleeves and wash your hands. Put the bowl on a table at a comfortable height for working. Starting with a knife and then using your hands stir and then knead the mixture until the water is all absorbed and the dough is smooth and springy, forming a clean ball. Drag and pummel it about in the bowl. It should clean all the dough off your hands in the process, though you may need to assist it by using a knife to scrape your fingers off and on.
  9. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it on a smooth surface for a bit, pulling, stretching and folding it and hitting it down hard with your knuckles.
  10. Grease the loaf tins.
  11. Divide the dough into the right number of pieces, by rolling the side of your hand back and forth across the dough ball like a bread knife at the cutting points.
  12. Put the dough pieces into the tins, put the tins into a huge plastic bag and arch the bag up over them so the bread has room to rise inside. Leave the bread to rise in the kitchen or some other warm place.
  13. An hour later, check the bread to see if it is well risen.
  14. Heat the oven to 450ºF, 220ºC, Gas mark 8. On the fan oven, make it about 200º or the bread setting if there is one.
  15. When the oven is warm, put the loaves in and set the clock for 42 minutes. You can glaze the top of the loaves with milk or egg if you like, before baking them.
  16. Remove the bread from the oven and take the loaves out of the tins. Cool on a wire rack (put a tea towel over the top to keep them slightly moist, if the loaves are to be left out cooling overnight).
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