Sunday, 13 September 2009
When I was a student and shared a flat I baked bread quite often because I'd just started getting into whole foods and of course, there were enough people who'd eat it before it went stale. Decent bread was the one thing I never stopped missing after moving to the UK so a few years ago I bought a breadmaker and have never looked back. Nowadays, for quickness, I mostly use bread mixes but I still have that first bread making book (Anneliese Eckert: Mehr Freude und Erfolg beim Brotbacken)from over 20 years ago and one of these days I will start a sourdough instead of using yeast.
While fresh yeast is easily available in German supermarkets, it is not sold in the UK. One way to get it is to ask at the baker's in large supermarkets - they usually give it out for free but while that's great as a one off it's a bit tedious to do once a week or even more frequently. So I eventually gave in and tried my luck with dried yeast which is available in either 7g sachets or 100g tins.
One of the recipes in the book is for baguette and I often make this at the weekend - using the bread maker for the dough, of course ;). I've played around with it a bit replacing some of the white bread flour (up to half) with stone ground wholemeal flour and adding oil to get a ciabatta-style bread.
750g strong white bread flour (or for a wholemeal bread replacing up to half with stone ground wholemeal flour)
10g dried yeast
2-3tsp salt (I've opted for the smaller quantity)
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
500ml of tepid water
milk or egg yolk for brushing
1. In the breadmaker:
1. Add water, salt and oil first, then the flour and yeast. Select the dough-making programme, which on my breadmaker takes 90 minutes.
2. After the programme is finished, prepare a work area for shaping the bread. I just sprinkle some flour on a clean kitchen worktop. Remove the dough from the tin. Fish out the kneading hook(s) and place on the worktop. Split in half and shape both halves into ciabattas.
3. Oil an oven tray and place the ciabattas on it. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven. Meanwhile brush the two loaves with milk or egg yolk. Bake at 220°C/gas mark 5/160°C in fan-assisted oven for 35 minutes. My gas oven does not seem to be that hot so when I want the bread to brown I actually bake it at the highest setting.
5. Transfer onto a rack to cool.
To find out whether the bread is done, remove from the baking tray, turn upside down and lightly tap it with your fingers. If it sounds hollow, it's ready.
Making the bread by hand:
These instructions are based on my trusty German breadmaking book.
1. Place flour into a large bowl, sprinkle salt and yeast over the top and mix all the ingredients together.
2. Stir in the lukewarm water and keep stirring until the dough is coming away from the bowl. Shape into a ball and knead vigorously on a floured board or kitchen worktop for 10-15 minutes until the dough is no longer sticky and starts to form bubbles.
2. Dust the base of the bowl with flour and place the dough ball back into it. Place the bowl into a large plastic bag, cover the whole thing with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes until doubled in size.
3. Split into 2 halves and knead through thoroughly. Shape into two ciabattas.
4. Oil an oven tray and place the ciabattas on it. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven. Meanwhile brush the two loaves with milk or egg yolk. Bake at 220°C/gas mark 5/160°C in fan-assisted oven for 35 minutes. My gas oven does not seem to be that hot so when I want the bread to brown I actually bake it at the highest setting.
6. Transfer onto a rack to cool.