Real Bread Week 20th - 28th February


You can't beat the taste and smell of fresh real bread. The national Real Bread week runs from the 20th February encouraging people to try real bread and make their own.


Here's a recipe directly from the Real Bread Campaign visit their website to find out more about the benefits of real bread.


Ingredients

Makes three largish (about 800g) loaves

1500g Strong / bread flour (white, wholemeal or a mix) 1000-1100g Water* 20g Salt (about one level 15ml tablespoon) 10g Fresh (or 3.5g fast-acting**) yeast

Optional

50g Milk powder 15g Butter (melted) or oil

These additional ingredients contribute to flavour and softness but are not essential.

*Adjust the hydration (water content) according to how absorbent the flour is and how comfortable you are with ahndling wetter doughs.

**Read the label and avoid any that contains additives, which fall outside the Campaign’s Real Bread criteria.


Method


Boil the water and leave to cool slightly. Whisk the water together with 200g of the flour. Leave to cool to ambient/room temperature.


Mix in the flour, yeast, salt (plus the milk powder and/or butter, if you’re using any of them) until dispersed.


Work/knead the ingredients until they come together as a rough dough but with no dry bits remaining. If it’s too dry and stiff, add a little more water – the wetter the better, frankly. As the dough develops you’ll find that a really wet dough will get less sticky due to the gluten forming and the starch and any bran hydrating. Bran in brown and wholemeal flour really sucks up water, so you’ll need even more than if just using white flour.


Cover the bowl (eg with a shower cap or carrier bag that you can reuse again and again) and leave to rest for half an hour or so.


Scoop the dough out of the bowl (with a wetted dough scraper, if you have one) stretch and fold it in half, then repeat this action a few times. You can find videos demonstrating how on t’internet. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover again.


Leave at room temperature to prove/rise. Depending on what temperature your room is (mine is usually about 19-20°C) this might be seven or eight hours. During this time, repeat the stretch’n’fold action every now and then so it ends up smooth and stretchy by the end.


Divide the dough into three pieces of equal weight (or roughly equal size, at least) and shape however you like eg to put in a banneton, an oiled tin, or free-standing on an oiled baking tray. Again, the intermesh is full of shaping how-to videos. Cover and leave the dough for two or three hours until it’s fully risen.


Heat the oven (with a baking stone or tray in place if you’re proving dough in a banneton) to about 220°C.

If proved in a banneton, turn the dough onto a dusted peel or board. Dust the top of the dough with flour, if you like, and/or slash it with a lame/grignette or super sharp knife and then put straight into the oven.


Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200°C and continue baking for another 25-30 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack, cover with a clean cloth (eg a tea towel) and leave to cool before slicing – bread can be gummy and lose a lot of moisture (and so stale more quickly) if cut when hot.

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