This is part of a semi-regular series of posts tackling how to make some of the things that we often end up buying pre-made. Things that we think of as basic ingredients, that aren’t ‘ingredients’ at all but are actually processed in some way for us. Things like bread, jam, butter, ketchup, baked beans and pickled ginger. Not everything is cheaper to make than buy, yet when you make it yourself, you know what’s in it.
Though I’ve been making my own bread for a while, I’ve only just cracked making bread that’s light enough to be used for sandwiches. While my bread has always been really tasty and perfect for soups, I’ve really struggled with getting it to rise enough, so it’s often been a little on the dense side.
Turns out that when they say ‘knead for ten minutes’ in recipes, they actually mean that. Woops.
The first time I set a timer and kneaded for the full ten minutes (result pictured above), I was amazed by a) how long ten minutes is (seriously, I must have been kneading for about three previously) and b) what a difference it made to my bread. It rose about twice as high as previous attempts and was so light on the inside. This seeded bread contains a higher proportion of brown flour, so is very slightly denser than that loaf, but still light enough to slice and make sandwiches out of. As in, I made Dave’s sandwiches out of it twice this week and he loved them (he is seriously fussy about homemade bread)!
So make sure you time yourself and actually knead for ten minutes – I can’t stress this enough. Most reasonably up to date phones even have a timer function (well my iPhone does – and yes, I know that an iPhone is not the most frugal phone choice), so you don’t need to buy a timer.
Use the seeds of your choice in this recipe. In the spirit of ‘using what I have in’, I used sesame seeds and sunflower seeds, but poppy seeds. pumpkin seeds and linseeds are all nice too.
Seeded Brown Bread (makes one loaf)
- 400g strong brown flour
- 50g strong white flour
- 1 1/2 tsp easy-blend dried yeast
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp mixed seeds (I used half sunflower and half sesame)
- 1 tbsp seeds for the top (I used all sesame here)
Mix the yeast, sugar and salt with the flours in a large mixing bowl. Add slightly warm water (I used around 300ml), mixing in with a wooden spoon and then with your hands, until everything is combined into an unsticky dough.
Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead for ten minutes (use a timer!), until the dough feels smooth and elastic. if it starts to stick on the surface, add a little more flour, but try not to add loads unless you need to. I added the seeds near the end of the kneading time, because I thought they’d be a bit sharp when kneading but it might be easier to incorporate them if you add them at the start.
Pop into a clean bowl and cover. Leave to rise for a couple of hours, or until doubled in size.
Knock back (that means punch it down slightly, don’t batter it though) and shape into a rough rectangle with your hands. Roll tightly into a sausage shape and put into your loaf tin, with the join at the bottom. Top with the rest fo the seeds and leave to rise until doubled again, maybe an hour and a half or so.
Preheat the oven to 220C and, once heated, bake the loaf for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 200C and bake for a further 15-10 minutes. If you remember, you can put a tray with a half cup or so of water in the bottom of the oven when you put the bread in, as the steam helps give a better rise and crust.
When done, remove from the loaf tin and cool on a cooling rack. Try to avoid cutting into it when it’s still warm (this is very difficult admittedly) as it apparently affects the texture of the loaf and it’s also harder for your body to digest before it’s cooled.
So what’s your favourite kind of bread to make yourself? Do you knead properly, or do you prefer no-knead recipes? Or do you use mixers or bread makers to do your kneading for you (I do have a breadmaker but tend to only use it if I’m in a rush, because I really like making bread by hand).