I didn’t realise just how much bread was part of my daily diet until I stopped eating it for Lent. Actually, it was really to support my chocy-holic daughter who decided to give up her daily ration of Nutella for the 40 days of Lent. So I decided to give up bread. Not a big sacrifice I hear you say, however, I come from an Italian background and it is unheard of NOT to eat bread. And home baked bread’s delicious. My mother was horrified that I had chosen bread, “What?! Not eat bread?” she cried. “It’s part of your culture – you’ll have to choose something else you know.” Not at all supportive! Thanks Ma!
I totted up my daily bread intake, which could consist of a slice at breakfast, a sandwich at lunchtime, then perhaps a slice or two at dinner. If I am a tad peckish I may even have a wee cheeky slice after school. That’s a fair amount of bread in one day!
Even when not eating it, I’m baking bread for the family and feel proud of myself for not even having one slice-especially when it comes out of the oven hot and smelling wonderful. I love making bread. It’s so therapeutic; and I love the feel of the soft dough when kneading it. Making bread brings back so many happy memories of watching my father, with my son, stood on a stool making ciabatta, up to his wee elbows in flour…it was a wonderful sight! There is nothing better than the whole house being filled with the aroma of warm bread and hearing the kids coming in from school shouting “Yes…Mum’s made bread.” So roll up your sleeves and get baking and smell those memories!
So here’s a really easy recipe for bread and when you master this you can start to add all sorts of ingredients.
- 500g strong white flour , plus extra for dusting
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 7g sachet fast-action yeast
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 300ml water
- Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl.
- Make a well in the centre, then add the oil and water, and mix well.
- If the dough seems a little stiff, add 1-2 tbsp water, mix well then tip onto a lightly floured work surface and knead.
- Once the dough is smooth, place it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with either oiled cling film or a damp tea towel.
- Leave to rise for 1 hour until doubled in size.
- Lightly oil a baking tray.
- Knock back the dough, then gently mould the dough into a ball.
- Place it on the baking parchment to prove for a further hour until doubled in size. Again gently cover to prevent it from drying out.
- Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7.
- Dust the loaf with flour and cut a cross about 6cm long into the top of the loaf with a sharp knife.
- Bake for 25-30 mins until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.
- Cool on a wire rack.