I'm sat here on my virtual deathbed. 50% of the population call it 'man flu'; 50% call it DEATH DISEASE. I'll let you, gentle reader be the judge of what I'm infected with. To assist in your deliberations though, this is me. Right now...
On to more important things. Bread. Now, I love bread. Nothing beats a nice crusty chunk of bread with some soup, or big, fat sandwiches for work. Also, nothing beats the smell of a bakery, which is a fact upon which I think we can all agree. I've been meaning to do an update on homemade bread for absolutely ages. Ever since I was given a breadmaker for my 28th birthday, in fact. So today, with the absence of work and a fresh loaf baked last night, I thought now was as good-a-time as any.
In the dark ages, y'know when women didn't have the vote, an honest job was working t'mines, Noel Edmunds was a popular TV celebrity and I didn't have my wonder-machine, I was never into the pre-sliced, bog-standard loaves that you could buy in bright polythene and tried, where possible, to get them from the bakery in a supermarket or, indeed, a bakery. I never quite realised however, to what extent actually owning a breadmaker would change my life. I make about 3 loaves a week, which sees to all sandwiches and toast and it tastes THE BEST.
Admittedly, being an impatient male, the 3hrs 24min it takes to make is agony - particularly in view of the smells emanating from the kitchen in the last hour - but it's so worth it in the end.
It took a while to get what I would consider to be, the perfect loaf. I'd used various recipes, with differing proportions of the ingredients, to varying degrees of success. I then tried various yeasts. There's the bread yeast which you just add in straight from the packet and then there's the yeast that you have to activate first in a sugar solution. This is my preferred version.
Anyway, onto the recipe. I have my breakmaker set to the following:
- Dark crust
- 3hrs 24min
- 600g of strong white flour
- 1 Tbsp yeast
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 Tsp salt
- A knob of butter
- 13fl oz of warm water (split up to activate the yeast)
The great thing is of course, is once you have the basics down, the versatility of the bread is only limited by your imagination. Herbs (my personal favourite is dried rosemary), spices, oats, sultanas etc. It's just delicious.