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Breadmaking doesn’t get easier than this!

(24 Posts)
Breadandwine Mon 05-Oct-15 12:35:54

I’ve been teaching people how to make bread for the past 22 years. For the past 13 years I have been running a weekly Family Learning Breadmaking session at a local primary school, teaching parents and (lately) reception-age children. Over 5 weeks we make at least 10 different varieties of bread – and no-one leaves school without being able to make bread! smile

All children, of whatever age, without exception (IME), love making bread – there’s something about having permission to get messy. (I tell them if you can’t make a mess when you’re making bread, when can you? grin) There is also tasting the bread when it comes out of the oven – and the pride involved when they show their bread to their teacher, and take the bread home and share it with their families. The children do all the work, the adults only come in and help when the child finds something difficult.

As an aside, the hardest thing for the mothers in the session (doesn’t affect fathers so much) is not to get their hands in and take over from their children. To help in this, I get the mums to sit back in their chairs, and, if they find their backs coming away from the chair back, that’s an indication that they are getting anxious. They are encouraged to relax and just let the kids get on with it – and they are always impressed by how well the youngsters get on!

In the first session we always make soda breads (either plain or fruited with spice) and a batch of fancy dinner rolls (or shapes). But in the following four weeks, the families choose what they would like to make.

We almost always end up making loaves/pizzas/Chelsea buns/pain au chocolat – and we often make a simple chocolate cake/pancakes/pikelets/iced buns, etc.

I try to remove or simplify all the barriers that prevent people from making their own bread. It's a fact that if you put flour and yeast together with water (hand hot, preferably), your bread will rise. It's that easy!

In response to 987flowers request for 'easy bread recipes' here’s a recipe for a seeded wholemeal loaf.

It’s simple, tasty, healthy and cheap.

gallicgirl Mon 05-Oct-15 12:38:03

What a brilliant idea. I wish all schools could do this.

gallicgirl Mon 05-Oct-15 12:39:58

Can I ask what the purpose of salt is in a dough recipe?

I'm currently weaning my son and I'm being a bit more aware of salt content at the moment.

(although not that aware as he is the second child and we all relax a bit)

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Mon 05-Oct-15 12:43:43

It's to balance the flavour and to stop the yeast working. You can cut down a lot on salt and still have it work. I tend to do half a teaspoon where the recipe says one or one and a half. No salt at all tends not to taste quite right though.

Tarzanlovesgaby Mon 05-Oct-15 12:48:05

bread without salt tastes disgusting but you only need very little.
I use about half a teaspoon per loaf which is 3-5g

FingerOFudge Mon 05-Oct-15 12:51:15

what a lovely class! Thanks for the link.

How do you deal with the proving time in a classroom situation?

Breadandwine Mon 05-Oct-15 13:42:49

My take on salt is that it is exactly like sugar in tea - once you get used to doing without, the bread tastes fine.

I made bread without salt when all my grandchildren were small - now they're not babies any more, we're re-introducing it.

I find Doves Organic Wholemeal to be a very tasty flour in its own right - doesn't need salt to bring out the flavour.

Traditional bread in the Tuscany region of Italy doesn't contain salt - something to do with salt being heavily taxed in the Middle Ages, I believe.

As to what is the purpose of salt in bread? Well, that's a good question. There's a lot of hype about it developing the gluten, etc, but, when you can make perfectly good bread without it, I'm not so sure about that.

It's true that an excess of salt will kill the yeast - but allowing salt and dried yeast to mingle before mixing the dough certainly won't! grin

Breadandwine Mon 05-Oct-15 14:01:27

How do you deal with the proving time in a classroom situation?

The thing to realise about yeast is that the more you use, the less time it takes to prove - the less you use, the longer it takes.

We use a good (heaped) teaspoon of fresh yeast to one mug (about 150g) of flour. We make one batch of bread - that proves whilst we're making the second - the second batch proves and bakes whilst the clearing away and washing up is done. Then the children either make a drawing of what they've made, or they go back to their class after a bit of tasting.

We have two hours, all told - and we're often finished early. smile

gallicgirl Mon 05-Oct-15 14:35:31

Thanks for that. I shall try cutting down a bit now I know it should still work.
Interesting about the fresh yeast too. I always use dried fast-action yeast as that's all I've ever seen in shops. However with a child in reception class and a 6 month old who likes company, bread-making is a rare luxury! I'll look into the fresh yeast to speed up the process.

FurbysMakeSexNoises Mon 05-Oct-15 14:38:40

Do you have any tips for making gluten free loaves? Most shop bought ones are revolting so I'd like to get better at making my own. Also I use an Aga. TIA.

Breadandwine Mon 05-Oct-15 16:08:55

Do you have any tips for making gluten free loaves?

Here's a post about GF baking which you may find useful .

I need to update it, since I tried some baked by a friend of mine which was GF and vegan, and it was pretty good! He told me it was made with Doves GF bread flour which had a new recipe on the pack (he used gram flour as an egg replacement). I've tried to buy some, but Sainsbury's told me it was 'Temporarily withdrawn'!

However I had more success with bread made from Bob's Red Mill flour from my local HFS. I made the two loaves in the pic from half the bag of flour - 225g, so they're very small. Tested out at my philosophy class last week, everyone gave the bread the thumbs up.

BUT, here's the kicker: the bag of 450g of GF flour was £5.99! With almond milk and gram flour that makes for very expensive bread. I'm guessing 1kg of Doves GF will be £2.50ish.

FingerOFudge Mon 05-Oct-15 16:38:22

that is useful to know, thank you! Also the GF links. I have a gluten intolerant friend and I want to make her nice bread... I've been a bit scared of trying tbh I hear so many horror stories.

4merlyknownasSHD Mon 05-Oct-15 17:08:38

Bread without salt does not taste good. One can get a little too hung up on salt in bread. I use 1.5 tsp of salt in a loaf that weighs 2lb (bigger than a "2lb loaf which only weighs around 1.6lbs) which is about 0.75 of what is suggested in the recipe I use. As I can get around 15 slices from a loaf, that equates to less than 0.6gm of salt per slice. As the adult RDA is 6gms, that is less than 10%.

gallicgirl Mon 05-Oct-15 17:24:40

but for my 6 month old, that would be 60%.

Wigeon Mon 05-Oct-15 17:30:45

This is like an unofficial webchat! Thank you Breadandwine!

I have a question about sourdough. I have recently made by own starter and have made my first few loaves. However, they have really varied in terms of how risen they get. I made one with about half wholemeal, half white, and that only got to about 4cm tall - how can I get a part wholemeal one to rise more?

Some of my 100% white loaves have been fairly low too, whereas the most recent one was really risen and very loose texture with different size air pockets in it (I think that's what I'm aiming for?).

How lax can I be with the proving? I have been a bit vague about it - just letting it prove a bit until I reckon it's about doubled, but can you leave it for longer?

Basically, top tips for sourdough welcome!

Breadandwine Mon 05-Oct-15 23:10:31

Thanks, Widgeon!

The best tip I can give you concerning sourdough is to take a look at The Fresh Loaf. The folk on there are serious about the subject.

I've dabbled with sourdough, but it doesn't suit my impatient nature - and, making wholemeal bread, I've never had the huge increase in flavour which generally occurs using white flour.

I sympathise with the different heights of your loaves - if you google 'no bread is an island flying saucer' you should find a pic of one of my flatter loaves! grin

As a general rule, the wetter [slacker] your dough, the more it will spread out - the dryer [tighter] your dough, the more it will stand up. So it's a question of tweaking your recipe every time you make a loaf. If you make a flat loaf, add 25g flour the next time and so on. And make notes - it's very annoying when you've made a good loaf and you can't remember the quantities.

As to how long to prove, it's a matter of judgement. Every time you make a loaf you gain more experience and you get better at it! As you know, the popular mantra is that the loaf should double in size - if you take a pic after you've shaped your loaf, you'll have something to compare it to as it rises.

But have a good browse through The Fresh Loaf - if you sign up to it you get a daily email on the latest posts on there.

Good luck!

FurbysMakeSexNoises Tue 06-Oct-15 15:40:39

Thank you- we do have access to juvela/glutafin etc but trying to be a bit more imaginative. Phil Vickery has some good info but his flour mixes are a bit convoluted!

987flowers Tue 06-Oct-15 21:06:28

Thank you for the link, am not working the next couple of days so planning to give it a try!!

987flowers Fri 09-Oct-15 13:35:53

I didn't make the seeded loaf but did make your overnight loaf which was so easy and tasty! Thank you for sharing

Breadandwine Mon 19-Oct-15 00:00:45

Sorry, flowers, I've been a little distracted.

Great to hear that the overnight recipe worked for you. Thanks for coming back to me. smile

lborgia Fri 30-Oct-15 02:05:35

Hi Bread think you're going to have the answer for this.

Here in Oz there's a bakery chain that feels like soggy white slice but they've obviously added something to it to make it low gi..

The boys adore it, and I've taken to using it for school lunch;, but I'd love to start making our own bread, and think to start with it will need to be as close to sliced white as possible. ..

does a recipe like this exist? ! smile

GreenSand Fri 30-Oct-15 03:53:45

Hey Breadandwine
Quick question. What are the best modifications, or types of bread to make with plain flour?? Strong flour seems hard to find, and expensive over in the middle East.....

Breadandwine Sat 07-Nov-15 19:07:15

I'm sorry this has take so long, GreenSand, I've been chasing up this recipe which may be of some use to you, for a while, and I finally found it this morning.

It's made with atta flour, which you may well find easier to locate than strong flour.

However, if you can only get plain flour, it'll still work, but obviously it won't be as good, or rise as much. I would slice it and freeze it as soon as it's cool. To add more flavour, add 50g of toasted seeds - sesame or sunflower, in with the flour, and use a good olive oil.

Don't expect to get everything right first time up - use every loaf you make as a marker for the next one - and take notes of everything you do. It's very annoying when it all comes together and you make something good - only to find you've forgotten just how you did it! grin

Couple of points on the recipe:
I find it better to use handhot water, since the yeast gets going a bit quicker
I always dissolve the yeast in water first - then you can be sure it's distributed right throughout the flour
You may not need all the water, so save a bit back
Assemble the dry ingredients first, add the water and then add the oil (always olive oil, for me) - saving a greasy jug!

Don't worry about first and second provings - if you want to go ahead and bake it straight away - go for it. It's all about fitting it into your lifestyle.

And don't forget the soda bread option. A quickly knocked up bit of bread in the frying pan is preferable to a "soggy, white, sliced loaf".

Which brings my to your question, Iborgia.

I don't know much about low GI in bread, I'm afraid - except that wholemeal bread should be lower GI than white bread.

I was going to suggest that you added some mashed potato to your dough - until I discovered that it's a higher GI than bread itself! confused

But there may be some merit in adding a modicum of gram flour (GI 10) along with the flour.

I'll give it some more thought and come back with a recipe - but, in the meantime, here's my basic white loaf.

This post is essentially about 3 ways (there are many more! grin) to make a loaf of bread - have a look at Method C.

lborgia Tue 10-Nov-15 14:09:56

Thanks so much for that - the low gi was a bit of a red herring which would be yuck in bread it was more the justification of buying whitegrin it's more about the fluffy white with a soft crust. I've just read Pyrex loaf tins stop a crust forming. I've never seen those? !

Thanks again.

My cunning plan is to start making white bread and tinsy bit at a time add wholemeal until they're converted!

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