One of my unpublished aims of 2012 was to learn to make bread, it is going ok. So far this year I have made 16 loaves of bread and we havent purchased any bread since 21st January which was over a month ago.
I started with a soda bread recipe from the internet as I thought this would be easier, I encountered two problems; firstly, you have to do the mixing and stuff quite quickly and I prefer to operate in a slow and considered manner, secondly, it was quite a wet dough and I dont really like things sticking to me, this was the result:
My second attempt was also soda bread, this one didnt turn out as well as the first:
My third loaf was my fist attempt at proper bread with yeast in it, it didnt turn out all that bad, a bit dense though. Not really sure why it turned out kind of square.
Four: another proper loaf, it was much colder in the flat this time and it took ages to rise, I really didnt expect it to bake properly but it wasnt too bad, not sure why it was a ledge on one side.
Five and Six: After loaf 4 I purchased the River Cottage Handbook No.3 – Bread by Daniel Stevens. I made two loaves in one go, one with wholemeal flour and one with white, the book suggests putting boiling water into a heated baking tray to fill the oven with steam, this seems to have improved the crust. The slashes do seem to be necessary.
Seven: This was a mixture of wholemeal and white flour, it turned out a bit dry and seems to have nostrils. I dont think I added enough oil.
Eight: We were watching six feet under when I was putting this one in the oven and I forgot to slash the top, this seems to have lead to a cavity between the crumb and the crust.
Nine: This one was nice, it was about 80% white 20% wholemeal with poppy and sunflower seeds.
Ten: A slight variation on nine, less wholemeal flour but baked for longer.
Eleven: This one had slightly more oil, loads of seeds and higher quality flour. Better flour seems to make a difference, the dough is much more stretchy and it seems to produce a better flavour.
Twelve: more or less the same as eleven, I seem to have shaped it a bit better.
Thirteen: I left this one to prove for a little too long and the crust seems to have dried out a bit too much and burnt a little.
Fourteen: This was really nice, I used Alisons Premium Strong White Bread flour and loads of poppy seeds. The middle slash always seems a little squashed, I might experiment with 2 slashes or shallower slashes.
Fifteen: This was my attempt to make a simple white loaf to compare with loaves 3 and 4 (the first proper loaves) the shape was a bit rough but the crumb was much more even and it tasted a lot better. I think I’ve made some progress although I should really have used the same flour to make it fair.
Sixteen: I used the last of the premium flour with a bit of cheap wholemeal and some poppy seeds, it turned out pretty well, we will be having it with falafel burgers for dinner tonight, wearing sandals and reading the guardian.