This month we are talking about spring in the garden - but you don't need a garden to experience the “force” of life!
Anyone can make their own bread and find out for themselves just how magical is the growth of the tiny “plant” we know as yeast. Yes – inside your dough it really does “grow” so that the carbon dioxide gas produced will make your bread rise.
Every time I see my bread rising I marvel at the “magic” of this life force which makes our Universe so wonderful. Not only does making your own bread provide a dose of “magic” but it also gives you your own “healthy” alternative to factory produced bread which is made for profit. For some the experience of “doing it yourself” can even become the first step in a more powerful process of dis-engaging from the clutches of the corporate world of greed. You can try it and see for yourself.
If you are not so keen on reading through, you can even watch it being done right after! Though it always smells better when you do it yourself! Scroll down to continue reading.
First take out a large mixing bowl – big enough for 4 mugs of flour and a pint or so of liquid.
Then add 4 mugfuls of your flour mixture to the bowl – I like to use 3 mugs of coarse wholemeal brown flour plus one mug of wheatgerm.
Add some seeds if you like – pumpkin or sunflour - plus, of course, one generous teaspoon of dried bread yeast.
Mix the whole lot well together with a wooden spoon.
Now take a small pan or jug – put in a teaspoon of salt and a few spoonfuls of olive oil then add hot water (about 500 ml should do it).
Stir your liquid to dissolve the salt then add milk to cool it so it's just nice and warm for your thumb (too hot and you'll kill your yeast – this is what the old brewers called the “rule of thumb”!)
Add your warm liquid to the flour mix – not too much at a time – and stir until you have a nice gooey dough (tip away excess liquid).
Give the dough a good stir and then scrape it out onto a well floured worktop – make sure you have enough space here to knead the dough.
Now you can roll your wet dough in the flour and give it all a good battering – for 5 minutes or so. Try to make sure you always have some dry flour between your fingers and the wet dough – or it will all stick to your hands (very messy!). Roll the kneaded dough into a big sausage that will drop into your bread tin – which you should have already brushed out with olive oil.
Now cover with a clean cloth and leave to rise in a warm place (for about 45 minutes usually).
Pre-heat your oven to about 180 degrees C and pop in your bread when it has finished rising. It should cook in about 40 minutes – lovely.
You can vary your flour mix each time and fill your living space with the wonderful smell of baking bread.
Suddenly life will seem truly worth living!
PS – Don't forget to clean up well afterwards. Dry dough sticks like the devil. Best technique is to dump your sticky bowl in the sink and fill with warm water whilst you sweep away excess flour from the worktop with a couple of sheets of kitchen roll. Use a sharp knife to scrape off any sticky dough before you wipe over firmly with the damp pieces of kitchen roll.