Baking bread is a special activity that touches the deep strings of the soul. I don’t know what the matter is – in fiddling with dough, in the memorable feeling of a holiday from childhood from making homemade pies, or in the indescribable aroma of freshly baked bread that fills the entire home.
Unfortunately, we usually don’t have time to bake bread at home, but now, during the lockdown, it is quite possible to do this. The benefits will turn out not even double, but triple: you can not leave the house once again, not be afraid that the bread will suddenly disappear from the stores, and, of course, pamper your home.
Background for the doubters
Many housewives who are interested in baking open the Internet, find a sea of fashionable insta bakers with recipes of the sample “stand the dough for two days, knead the dough three times for half an hour” and run away in horror, deciding that this is a business for unemployed people. The conclusion is quite natural. For the time being, I myself thought the same way – and then I ended up in a village where the nearest bakery was six kilometers away, and it was only possible to get there on foot, and I had to take bakery seriously.
I, like many, discovered a ton of recipes for two days of trouble, but I stubbornly searched further, trying to find an option suitable for a working woman with a family. And the option was found. It turned out that there is so-called bread without kneading, for the preparation of which 5-10 minutes of work is enough – neither long-term exposures nor long kneading is required.
There was no confidence that such bread would turn out to be of sufficient quality, but I cannot live without bread at all, so I tried to bake it – and it worked. The loaf came out lush, ruddy and obscenely tasty. Since then, I periodically bake bread, even when it is not necessary, just for my own pleasure.
For such bread, you will need 5 g of fresh yeast or 3 g of dry yeast, 365 ml of water, 500 g of flour and 1.5 tsp. salt.
At least half of the flour should be wheat flour. The second half can be anything you like – again wheat, rye, multigrain, corn or any other. There is only one requirement: all flour must be suitable for baking bread (in Britain this is always indicated on the label)… There are varieties of flour that are not intended for baking: they have too little gluten, and if you add them to the bread, it will never rise, so it is better to take this point into account.
I myself take 300 g of wheat flour and 200 g of rye. Bread from such a mixture turns out not white, but rather gray, which is baked in the villages, but you can mix any bread flour of your choice or take a different one every time – the variety of food only decorates.
It is also worth mentioning that the preparation of the dough requires precision, all components must be weighed, so you need a kitchen scale.
Pour the flour into a large saucepan and mix it with a tablespoon with dry yeast and salt, fill it with lukewarm water and stir again. It is not necessary to achieve the smoothness of the dough – it is enough that all the flour is wet and mixed with water more or less uniformly. If you took fresh yeast, then the technology becomes a little more complicated: you need to put them in water, stir well so that they dissolve, and pour this talker into flour.
If you want to add something to the bread, then you need to add such ingredients to dry flour simultaneously with yeast and salt. Dried garlic, cumin, coriander, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, or herbs can be used as additives.
This completes the main stage. Here our saucepan with the dough still sleeping should be covered with cling film and put in a warm place – I put it on a battery, for example. You can do without heat, just leave it on the table in the kitchen, but then you should take a little more yeast, 10 g instead of 5 (we are talking about fresh). When warm, the dough should stand for about 2 hours. Approximately because yeast may not work the same way and our ideas about heat may also differ.
It is very simple to determine that the dough is ready: it should increase in volume by about three times, but at the same time retain the correct aroma – the smell of yeast dough. If the saucepan smells distinctly of mash, then the dough has stopped and the bread will rise worse when baking, no matter how hard you try. Next time, just keep the dough in a cooler place.
Then it’s time for the second stage. Sprinkle flour on a large cutting board, put the risen dough on it and gently shape it with your hands so that you get a more or less neat loaf. You cannot crush and squeeze it strongly, so there is no kneading – on the contrary, all efforts are minimal, only so that the dough becomes similar in shape to bread. And, oddly enough, that’s all.
Then we take out a thick-walled pot with a lid (duck, deep frying pan, or any other kind of utensil that the British call casserole; I use a cast iron saucepan from Le Creuset) and put the bread there. It is not necessary to grease the walls of the dishes with oil or sprinkle with flour – do not be afraid, the dough will not stick. Here you need to turn on the oven to heat up, and leave the bread warm for about another 30 minutes – during this time it will restore the splendor lost due to molding.
We tightly close our cast iron with a lid, put in the oven and bake for 30 minutes at a temperature of 230 degrees. Then you need to remove the lid and bake for another 20 minutes at the same temperature – for a golden brown crust on top. The finished bread must be shaken out of the dishes and allowed to cool on a wire rack before cutting it (the latter is difficult, since it smells like the whole house and all family members want to get their slice as soon as possible).
If suddenly there are no suitable dishes, you can simply bake on a baking sheet covered with foil. In this case, the bread rises a little worse when baking, it turns out not so fluffy, but still very tasty. So that the uncovered dough does not dry out, you need to put any container with water on the bottom of the oven, and the steam formed when the water is heated will prevent the crust from becoming too thick.
If you have tasted the bread and it turned out that it is hard on the outside and damp on the inside, it means that the oven heating was too strong. This happens: all ovens are different and at the same temperature level they heat up slightly differently. Next time, just turn the temperature 10 to 20 degrees lower and you will be fine. If the bread is pale, soft and under-baked, then, on the contrary, the heating is too weak, and next time it should be increased by the same 10–20 degrees.
Sometimes it happens that everything seems to be done according to the recipe, and the yeast is good, and the bread does not rise in the oven, so instead of a lush loaf, a dry flat cake is stubbornly produced at the exit. Most often, the reason is in an unsuitable oven – unfortunately, this is critical for baking bread. A very strong, but even and evenly distributed heat is required from a “bread” oven. If your oven is old and does not keep heat well, then, alas, you will never bake lush bread in it.
If the last part about the failures confuses you, do not be discouraged in advance. The recipe is very simple and reliable. I only needed to bake the bread twice to get it right. For the first time, the dough I had was undersalted (I was afraid to add as much salt as indicated in the recipe) and stood slightly, which made the finished product a little rustic berry mash, but even that did not spoil it. But after the holiday came – the moment when you cut off the first piece of still warm homemade bread, and it is very, very tasty, but also very warm and joyful. That’s the way it is, homemade bread.
Prepared by Elena Chernova