What helped me relax after a long week of hard work in the office was to bake bread with my bare hands (think pounding the dough with my fist – my ideal therapy). I was once inspired by Michel Roux Jr’s Sandwhich Bread Loaf on the Great British Food Revival tv program. He showed how easy it was to bake bread with a few simple ingredients: Flour, water, milk, yeast, salt and golden syrup. I had a go at using his recipe and then I explored baking other type of breads like the cheese loaf, scones and my favourite focaccia. It’s hard work with all the kneading and proving, but imagine eating your homemade bread fresh from the oven and made with your own bare hands? After one bite, you’ll never want go back to the cheap bread from the supermarket ever again! It’s worth the time, effort and aching arms.
– Proving improves the flavour in the dough, so be patient!
– If you don’t have fresh yeast you can mix instant yeast straight in the bowl of flour, but try and keep it away from the salt as salt kills the yeast.
– Place a baking tray at the bottom of the pre-heated oven and splash some water to give steam during the bake. This will give a shiny surface to the loaf of bread. Do this a couple of times during baking.
– You need to cover the bowl to allow the dough to prove. I use disposable shower caps (normally taken from hotel bathrooms) which make better covers than just using cling film.