I love making bread. I love the smell of the loaves baking that fills the house house with that feeling of warmth and comfort, and I love the fact that it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than buying artisan loaves from bakers (although I do that too). What I don’t like is kneading, so you won’t see any of that in my bread recipes. I know some people love it (and I’ve gone through stages of making bread like that), but I prefer the ‘bung it all into the machine’ method. All the flavour, none of the arm ache. This easy, no knead white bread recipe makes two loaves. They don’t last long enough in our house, but if you want, you can eat one fresh, then slice and freeze the other one. It’s perfect for toasting.
You can get a kilo and a half of bread flour for about a quid (or go organic for a bit more), and a tub of fast action yeast (I used to buy the the sachets, but they’re much more expensive) for about the same, so it’s thrifty too. And seeing as my word for 2019 is simplicity, it’s the perfect activity for taking your life back to basics: I love a few hours of gentle pottering in the kitchen, plus there’s the bonus of a seriously pleasing, home made result.
Easy, no knead white bread
725g strong white bread flour
14g fast action yeast
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp rapeseed (or other) oil
500ml warm water
So firstly, weigh out your ingredients. Pop the flour into your mixer bowl and add the yeast, salt and sugar.
Measure out the warm water (it should be nicely warm, not hot) and add in the oil, then set the mixer going and gently pour in the oil/water mixture as it’s running. Leave to mix for about 5 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready as the dough will be smooth, stretchy and elastic (see my pic below).
Now, I cover the top of the bowl (clean tea towel, muslin, loose foil – whatever you have really) and pop it into our airing cupboard (anywhere warm will do) for an hour or two until the dough has really puffed up and doubled in size.
Dip your fist into some flour, then knock in down to push out all the air. Shape into two loaves – any shape you like but I just make mine roughly round – and leave them to rise again for half an hour or so (I do this bit in the kitchen). Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/gas 5, then bake for 35 minutes until golden brown.
Of course, once you’ve started on this journey, you end up getting carried away and making all sorts of different breads. I particularly like to add a tablespoon of chopped, fresh rosemary and then make the loaves into more of a long, thin shape. Perfect for slathering in garlic butter and serving with pasta. You can also make sweet fruit breads and even banana bread (just purée bananas, mix with water and use them instead of plain water – delicious if you add chopped chocolate too).
Got the bug? Why not try my no knead rye bread rolls?