Baking your own bread is one of the simplest pleasures you can have. Until fairly recently I used a bread making machine to take the ‘hard work’ out of the process, but after it broke down (it was well used!) I started making bread by hand again, and I have to say that the bread has improved hugely in the transition. Also, I’m not finding it hard work on my hands at all, quite the contrary.
The important thing is to keep the mix sticky, if at the last kneading the bread mixture is still a little too sticky, add a sprinkling of rice four, but not so much to make the mix dry, just so that it comes away from your hands a little easier.
Here’s my recipe
600gm strong organic wholewheat bread flour (you can use 50/50 strong white and wholewheat if preferred)
80g soft butter or veg oil
2 tablespoons sugar or honey
1 1/2 teaspoons bread yeast
1 teaspoon pink himalayan salt
400mls hand hot water
Rice flour for the baking sheet
Jug for water
Large bowl for mixing and proving
Damp teatowel, or tight lid for the bowl
mix all the dry ingredients with the butter or oil in a bowl until it resembles very fine breadcrumbs
Gradually add the water, mixing with one hand, bringing all the ingredients together, to make a sticky dough. You may not need all the water, sometimes I have about a couple of tablespoons worth left in the jug.
Continue mixing the dough for a few minutes, stretching it and pressing it around the sides of the bowl.
Leave it to rest for at least 30 minutes, covered with a tight lid, or damp teatowel over the top of the bowl.
After 30 mins take the lid off and gently stretch and roll the dough around the bowl again, take your time, don’t be too rough with it, do this for about 5 minutes at most. Put the lid back on and leave for 1 hour at least. (Or put it in the fridge overnight – it can be left for 24 hours if needed)
Final proving – heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Sprinkle rice flour onto a baking tray
With a little rice flour on your hands, (if the mix is still very sticky), take a handful of dough and gently shape into a flat bap, place on the tray. I usually make 5 large, or 6 slightly smaller baps from the dough. Try to keep the dough balls evenly sized. They will spread a little on the tray, but this doesn’t matter at all.
Cover the baps with a clean damp teatowel and leave for 20-30 minutes to rest, they will rise a little more while the oven gets to temperature.
Bake in the hot oven for 20-25 minutes, check after 20 minutes. They should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped from underneath. If unsure, leave for two or three more minutes in the oven, then lift out and allow to cool.