It’s Real Bread Week, so why not get baking homemade fresh bread? Here are some top tips for great bread to get you started.
1. Don’t kill your yeast!
Take care when measuring out the ingredients. Salt can kill yeast when they come in direct contact. If this happens, your yeast cannot activate and produce the gas which makes a lovely risen loaf. So measure the salt onto one side of the bowl and the yeast the other, before mixing them both well into the flour.
2. Should I knead on a floury surface?
No! Unless you’re making a very wet dough, don’t flour the surface – extra flour dries your dough out. Embrace the sticky and get kneading. Use a little olive oil on the surface if it’s still too sticky for your liking.
3. Can I overknead the dough?
Yes, but probably not by hand. Keep kneading until you can gently stretch out a piece of dough thin enough to see light through it. If using a mixer, bring the ingredients together on the lowest speed, then turn up the speed one or two notches and continue for another 3 – 4 minutes only. Check your dough regularly to prevent overkneading.
4. Incorporate some extra flavour
Flour, water, yeast and salt alone can make amazing bread. But you can easily add more flavour. Seeds, grated cheese or some nuts or dried fruit all make great additions that create a whole new loaf. Knead seeds or cheese in from the start, or fold in nuts and dried fruit before shaping your final loaf.
5. Know when to move on
To check if your shaped dough is ready to be baked, dip your finger in flour, then push gently into your dough. If the dent made springs straight back, the loaf still has some rising to do. If the dent stays, and the dough feels soft and full of air, the dough is ready to go into the oven.
If you’ve enjoyed this blog, do let me know in the comments! Or why not check out more breadmaking recipes, hints and tips on my blog.
You can also join my supportive community of home bread bakers over on Facebook. From sharing great bakes and recipes to asking and answering key breadmaking questions, there’s plenty to learn and join in with.