Doughy shenanigans...

Everybody needs a basic

For over a year I have been ignoring this blog, not because I didn't want to add to it - or heaven forfend - make something of it. No I was stuck jumping from one objective to another, studying in my own time to working to my daughter; and I always just kept putting this off due to not really knowing how to add pictures, not having the foggiest clue how to code HTML etc.

The list goes on, well I thought I could at least start writing more and using what photos I can take to (attempt to) put across what I've been experimenting on! anyway well I've always baked, baking was originally what I did most of growing up that steered my interest in food; however bread.... bread and I have always had a very tempestuous relationship.

I wished, planned and prepared in my own time to create pillowy rolls, crunchy baguettes with moist crumb and oat flecked soda breads that would make an Irish housewife of old weep with envy. Instead I created batard's that could be used to torpedo ships, loaves that could be carried for self-defence and rolls that should've been banned by the Geneva convention as an inhuman method of torture

That is until one afternoon I spent twenty minutes watching Paul Hollywood's bread programme, I quite accurately thought if I can't figure out what's wrong with my bread after watching this chap I should never be allowed in a kitchen again. And lo and behold! it worked, after many testers and more effort I achieved bread closer to what I dreamed of.

This recipe is my variation on a typical white bread, its very moist but not a wet dough so is quite easy to handle and is shaped better for a boule or a loaf tin. The major difference being the addition of maple syrup to the dough - I have to say I enjoyed it toasted more than anything - me and Esme though enjoyed it as sandwiches on a Saturday picnic by the river so thumbs up all round.

A basic white bread

My only problem with this loaf is that I don't have a big enough freezer to come some on standby for sandwiches, since its high moisture content will keep it really well for short periods whilst frozen. I've amended the recipe to include a touch more salt as this was quite a sweet bread (a touch too sweet for my tastes) for this reason I'm more working on a couple of savoury ideas (Roasted garlic and herb, vintage cheddar and jalapeno pepper).

500g White flour
50g Unsalted butter
50g Maple syrup
20g olive oil
2 Tsp Salt
10g Fast action dried yeast
250ml warm water

In a measuring jug add the maple syrup to the warm water - be doubly sure that the water is warm enough (37 - 44 degrees celsius for the precise chefs), now add the yeast, whisk and leave to bloom for fifteen minutes. Meanwhile get your dry ingredients sorted, to the flour add the salt and rub in the butter.
The yeast when activated will smell and the there should be a frothy mound on top of the water, now the fun bit - everyone has different methods, I add the liquid into my dry directly on the work surface but that has plenty of pitfalls. For this the best way is in a shallow wide mixing bowl, get your hand right in there and fold the flour from the bottom over the liquid until it starts to come together.
Add half the olive to the bench and tip out the dough onto the work surface and start kneading, you need to really give it some elbow grease for about ten minutes, using your dominant hand push the heel of your palm into the centre and push away - this stretches the gluten and gives the bread its elasticity. Even if it starts out as a sticky mess that won't leave your hand alone DO NOT ADD ANY MORE FLOUR (add a little olive oil to the bench if you want the help), just keep working it, use a spatula to push it into a mound if needs be every few pushes.
Leave in a warm place for roughly forty five minutes - when you start your first rise (or prove as its otherwise known), preheat your oven to 220 Degrees Celsius - have either your baking sheets or loaf pan ready. Tip your bread out onto the bench, this will knock it back for you as its a soft dough; This mix for me made a small round Boule and a loaf tin, take just over a third off using either a bench knife or a sharp paring knife. Fold each side over into the middle and keep turning and tucking, turn over so the tucks are underneath and start spinning it on the bench, tucking your hands under to form a round.
The loaf is much simpler, just take a side and fold over and tuck into the middle, keep doing this until the dough is stretched and taut, now flip over so the seam is now underneath, push the sides in and down to create more tension in the dough; now put it in the loaf tin ensuring the seam stays on the bottom or it won't rise well. Give it another hour or until doubled in size before baking - twenty to thirty minutes for the boule, thirty to forty five for the loaf.
The old trick of a hollow bottom when tapped will tell you if have lovely bread, I hope this recipe works!


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Well I'm Stuart - the would be author of this attic space in the fens of the internet. When not trying to get this going I work as an office monkey in Nottinghamshire

However I am a trained chef - woe betide my silly decision there eh?

I would like to introduce the other part of this equation which is my daughter Esme! 3 and a half and already behaves like the boss