How to make bread that competes with shop bought loaves and is both tasty and nutritious?
Basic bread making is surprisingly easy once you adopt a few simple habits. Here's how to make bread at home using simple techniques that anyone should be able to master.
Making homemade bread is a simple and satisfying skill and once you have mastered the basics it's easy to turn out reliable loaves for your family to enjoy. The kneading process also provides quite a good upper body work-out! Making bread can be an enjoyable part of the day.
How to make bread that is tasty and healthy: Making healthy bread
Healthy bread can be made at home. Use top quality flours and added ingredients. Organic flour is best, of course in that there is little chance of the flour containing pesticide residues or other contaminants. It is also better for wildlife in that damaging practices such as the use of Roundup or other harmful chemicals are avoided.
Select whole grains for their nutritional qualities. When making bread at home it is easy to incorporate healthy additions such as seeds, natural oils.
Most organic and quality flours will be low on unnecessary additives such as bleaching agents and "flour improvers". The nutrition and taste will almost certainly be better if you use such flours. If you want to learn how to make bread that is both tasty and nutritious, choose your ingredients wisely. There are now artisan flours produced by organic farmers and local mills which are really worth buying. The extra expense is well worth it, in my view.
If you are opting for white flour, again organic flour is tastier and better in all the ways already mentioned. If you are paying attention to your diet there is no need to miss out on the pleasure of crusty white loaves and rolls; just make them yourself with the best ingredients you can find. Make sure that your diet is rich in other sources of vitamin B, fibre and vitamin E. These are less well supplied in white flour as the removal of the germ and outer grain reduces such nutrients in the flour.
How to make bread that is tasty and healthy: Basic bread making tips for success
This page does not include any actual recipes. For a simple whole grain bread recipe please see this page.
It's quite easy to make mistakes when using a bread recipe in the early days. To make life a little easier for readers who are new to the whole experience... here are a few good bread making tips.
I've learned most of these through hard experience!
Make sure your yeast is really fresh. Dried yeast can lose potency over a few weeks. Test some in warm water with a little sugar if you are doubtful about its age. It should start to bubble within a few minutes, if not, discard it and buy a new pack.
Quick acting dried yeast is worth using as it can be used without any additional sugar and still cause the bread to rise within an acceptable time span.
Use fresh ingredients as far as possible. Flour goes stale fairly quickly, especially wholewheat bread flour; the fats in the wheatgerm go rancid.Use enough water. If the dough is too sticky at first, leave it for ten minutes. If the moisture isn't absorbed by then add a little extra flour. Too little water leads to a tough loaf.
Make sure that you allow ample time for the bread to rise. The dough should at least double in size in order to be properly "proved".
Don't leave your bread to rise for too long. It should approximately double in size. If you leave it too long the resultant bread may be too crumbly. It's also quite important that the room is warm enough for a good rise and there are no cold draughts swirling about the kitchen. However, even in less than ideal conditions, bread will rise eventually.
Keep your bread dough covered during proving. A damp cloth helps the dough to stay soft. Cling film also works well. Cling film can be washed and reused, to save on energy.
Never skip the double proving; bread that is cooked after one rise really does not make a tasty digestible loaf! Always allow the bread to rise twice - if you don't you are likely to get a brick! The only exception that I know of is if you are making flat breads such as pizza or pita bread. This works because the very thin shape allows enough scope for rising as the dough is being shaped and in the oven and not much of a rise is needed as the bread is flat.
Put your bread into the oven when it's fully up to temperature. If you put it in too early it will not cook properly. You'll get a doughy, unpleasant texture for your pains. If you are uncertain of your cooker's temperature dial, opt for a hotter temperature as you are more likely to get a well cooked result. Check the bake after fifteen or twenty minutes and turn the oven down if the outside is cooking too fast (i.e. there is undue browning).
For a softer crust, cover the bread in a damp tea towel when it comes out of the oven.
Dusting the loaf with flour before baking helps you to achieve a good crust that is crisp and not tough.
For really crisp results, put a tray of hot water under the loaf in the oven. To do this, I tend to place a deep tray or large pie dish into the oven while it heats up. Boil a kettle and then pour the contents into the dish. Allow the oven ample time to get up to temperature with the steaming tray in place. Add the loaves quickly and proceed as normal. Using this method you can make really crisp breakfast rolls or a bloomer type of bread. Both brown and white loaves will crisp up nicely.
If you want to learn how to make bread effectively, without tears, then practice often and analyze what you do each time. Probably the biggest mistakes I've made are: not kneading the dough for long enough, not having the oven hot enough and not taking enough care with timing. A timer is a useful gadget - or set your mobile phone to remind you when to remove the loaf.
How to make bread that is tasty and healthy: Here are some great books on bread making
Here is some excellent reading about bread making and the techniques you need to become a good bread maker.