"We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and for each other. It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependant on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."
—Wendell Berry

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Baking bread

We bake our own bread. It is not only cheaper, it is also much better bread!
Although we could go through the whole process of kneading, and we used to, we prefer to mix a single large batch of dough in our light industrial mixer. It takes away the main obstacle of making bread- the labour. I took a while to learn to use the mixer. Does that sound strange? You see, when you knead dough by hand it is easy to tell when it is done by the texture and pressure under your hands. With an industrial mixer it is a lot harder to tell when it has been kneaded properly. I tend to stop it after ten minutes and test a small sample for spring and stretch. The first few batches we did were not tested and turned out somewhat leathery when baked.
The dough when done properly should have a silken feel and should spring back when poked. When it is done I leave it in the mixing bowl and cover it with a couple of tea towels for a few hours. it will rise to at least twice its original size.
The child bride then takes the dough out and knocks it down before dividing it into eight parts. Each is quickly kneaded by hand and placed into a bread tin for a second rising.
The loaves on the left have been done earlier than those on the right. This is so they can be baked in groups of four, the maximum the oven will take.
The smell of fresh baked bread is one of the greatest pleasures in life I reckon. I usually try (unless caught by the wife) to sneak a couple of hot slices with fresh butter and a glass of fresh milk, absolutely magnificent!

Our recipe is simple enough. We used to use a much more complicated method but this one works at least as well.
  • Fourteen sifted cups of bakers flour
  • Three tablespoons of raw sugar
  • One and a half tablespoons of salt
  • Seven cups of lukewarm water
  • One sachet of good bread yeast. - I like to put the yeast into the lukewarm water with a handful of flour. Do this a couple of hours before mixing the dough up. It will "wake" the yeast up and gets the rising off to a flying start.
Knead the bejabbers out of it until it is silky to touch and will spring back when touched. Let it rise for a couple of hours until it has doubled in size. Divide into eight portions and knead briefly. Place each into its own baking tin and allow to rise again until it looks like a loaf of bread. Bake at 175 degrees Celsius for forty minutes. Easy.

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