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Stuff of Life*

BreadI was inspired to bake some bread last week, largely because the children were still on holiday so I had to feed them something and after our holiday the previous week, I’ve been far too busy catching up with work to shop and besides, the bank account is a bare as…umm…the bread bin. Time being at something of a premium, I cheated and just threw the ingredients into the bread machine and by lunchtime the smell was making it hard to think of anything else. Home made bread, even if it is untouched by human hand, is just so tasty… and irresistible. In fact, this is the main reason I don’t make bread very often or I’d be the size of a house.

*Yes, I am aware that the expression is that bread is the staff of life.

A small loaf of sliced (seeded or wholemeal) supermarket bread will easily last me a fortnight, or as long as it doesn’t go blue, for an occasional slice of toast. Nobody else in the house eats sliced bread – DH has wraps, DD has scones and DS prefers bagels. Even an artisan loaf from the market will normally last a week (though we’ve stopped getting those as the last couple have been a bit dry), but a home baked loaf is lucky  to see out the day. You have been warned. Read on at your own risk.

Prompted by the craving for a Really Good Sandwich, I spontaneously decided to make another loaf this morning and it was so nice that I have to share the recipe with you. It is my well tried and tested default bread, the recipe for which is scribbled on an aged yellow post it note that has no sticky left and resides impaled on a hook in the kitchen. I forget where it came from, but it has served me well.


Basic Light Wholemeal Bread (Machine)

11 fl. oz water
1.5 tbsp olive oil
16 oz strong bread flour (50/50 or 10 wholemeal:6 white)
1.25 tsp salt
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1.5 tbsp dried skimmed milk powder
2 tsp yeast (or 1 sachet)

Follow your own bread machine’s instructions** . Mine requires the wet ingredients to be put in first water and oil), then the dry on top. The dry ingredient order is not particularly important, but I would recommend putting in half the flour, then adding the salt, sugar and milk in separate corners, add the remaining flour then finally make a little well in the centre and add the yeast. It is important the the yeast is not in direct contact with the salt initially as salt inhibits yeast, while sugar feeds it. The milk powder will make the loaf softer – loaves baked in/on metal will have a harder crust. You can substitute liquid milk for some of the water if you don’t have powder, but I have never done this, so I can’t comment on the proportions.

The programme I use is the Rapid Wholemeal and takes a little over 2 hours, so if I start it after the school run, the bread is ready for lunch. (Yes, I am munching a Really Good Sandwich as I write this – be envious, be very envious!)

** you can make the dough by hand in your usual manner if you prefer, but the recipe is geared towards machines, so I can’t say how it will turn out.

Another variation that is extremely yummy and I heartily recommend, is to add a generous couple of tablespoons of pesto to the water instead of oil and mix it in well. The pesto is not overwhelming but makes for very, very tasty bread.

Really good bread just makes me want to sing, but since  it’s rude to sing with one’s mouth full, here are some chaps singing a vaguely appropriate ditty.

Well done Wales for winning the Six Nations and giving us a most enjoyable week away 🙂

For more non-machine bread (and cake) related adventures see here



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15 April 2013

5 Comments to “Stuff of Life*”

  1. oh my stomach is totally rumbling at the thought of a slice of that bread! And I’m on a fast day today, so I’m really suffering!!! What did you have in your sandwich? I needz to know!!!!!

    Ali x

  2. I’m mostly happy to skip bread, but a fresh loaf like that sounds heavenly! There’s one restaurant we go to sometimes that does a cheesey bread that arrives at the table warm from the over, crispy on the outside, and moist and chewy on the inside. Only time I ever eat restaurant bread, and I’m just glad it’s a really small piece 😉

  3. PERFECT WHITE BREAD Two loaves of bread crisp of crust and tdeenr of crumb.1 pkg. active dry yeast1 c. lukewarm water2 tbsp. sugar2 tsp. salt1/4 c. Crisco1 c. hot milk5 to 6 c. enriched flourSoften yeast in 1/4 cup of the lukewarm water for 5 minutes, then stir until blended. Measure sugar, salt and Crisco into mixing bowl, pour hot milk over them and stir, mashing Crisco against sides of bowl until broken into small lumps. Add remaining water and cool to lukewarm. Stir in 1 cup flour. Add yeast and 2 more cups flour and beat with a wooden spoon until batter is smooth and elastic. Stir in 1 1/2 to 2 cups more flour, then, with floured fingers, work in enough additional flour to make a soft dough that does not stock to the fingers.Turn dough onto lightly floured board and knead for 2 minutes, about 100 kneading strokes. Shape dough into a ball and put it in a bowl rubbed with Crisco. Spread surface of dough lightly with Crisco, cover with a towel and let dough rise until double in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down and turn onto floured board. Cut dough in half and shape each half into a smooth ball. Shape each ball into a loaf and put into bread pan rubbed with Crisco. Cover pans with a towel and let bread rise until the sides of the raised bread reach the top of the pans and the center is nicely rounded above it, about 1 hour.To bake: Bake loaves at 400 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown.When baked: Turn loaves from pans immediately to keep crust crisp, and cool on a cake rack. For a soft, tdeenr crust: Brush loaves with Crisco as soon as they come from oven. quantum I gave this recipe to a lady who was cooking for 4 comercial fishermen and in her commentsshe liked it very much. I hope you do also.But remember home made bread will not be as light and fluffy as commercial bread. jim b

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