Friday, May 02, 2008

Easy Homemade Bread Recipe

I love bread and have it every morning. I’ve baked bread countless times and I keep the ingredients and equipment used to a minimum, so there is less washing up to do. I also like the method as fuss-free as possible. After experimenting many many times, I’ve come up with a recipe that is fool-proof and super easy.
The ingredients I use today are all necessary, even the salt. If any of the ingredients are missing, the bread won’t turn out well.
Bread flour: This contains more protein than the usual plain flour or cake flour. Thus it gives the bread more ‘elasticity’ and chewiness. I have tried substituting it with other flour, but I still like the taste of bread made with bread flour.
Potato flour/starch: This flour, when added to bread dough, makes the bread soft. This is because potato flour absorbs moisture from the air.
Dried instant yeast: This makes the dough rise. Absolutely essential. Try to use yeast that is freshly bought because yeast can lose its effectiveness after being stored unused for a very long time.
Sugar: This ‘feeds’ the yeast and makes it ‘grow’. It’s food for the yeast. Very essential, so do not omit.
Salt: Gives the bread flavour. Without it, bread can taste rather unpleasant.
Water: Binds all the ingredients.
Cooking oil: Gives the bread much-needed moisture.
Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds: These are optional ingredients, but they really give the bread a delicious nutty flavour!

Fuss-free Bread
400g bread flour (sift)
2 tbsp potato flour/starch (optional)
1 tsp dried instant yeast (I used Bake King brand today)
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
A few tbsp pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds (optional)
240ml lukewarm water
3 tsp cooking oil
Method:Mix all ingredients using a mixer (use the spiral dough hooks) and knead it for 5 minutes (using the mixer or by hand). If the dough doesn't come together, add a little more water.
Line a 4 x 9 x 3 inch tin with greaseproof paper and grease it with oil. Place dough in it and let it rise for 3 hours in an unheated closed oven.
Remove dough from oven before preheating the oven till 220°C/425°F. Bake for 20 minutes. Cut bread with a serrated bread knife.

Video: Making bread

Un-risen dough
Risen dough (after 3 hours)
Kneading: The dough must be kneaded well before leaving it to rise. The kneading action makes the dough more elastic and this will make the bread rise well. Without this kneading action, the bread will turn out short and ‘squatty’. My standing mixer was not working too well today, so I had to knead the dough by hand. But I usually let the standing mixer do all the work, because the dough should be kneaded for about 5 minutes. Kneading it by hand can be a little tiring, but it was good arm exercise for me today!
Baked bread

Serrated knife
Serrated knife: Use a serrated bread knife (it has a row of v-shaped points along its edge, making the knife resemble a saw) and use a sawing action to slice the bread. You can use a normal knife to slice bread but a bread knife slices the loaf neatly and beautifully.
Peanut Butter
Kraft Crunchy Peanut Butter: My FAVOURITE peanut butter because it contains no trans fat and it’s not sweet. So far, I’ve only seen it at Fairprice Finest at Bukit Timah Plaza. Great with a slice of homemade bread. Sprinkle some pumpkin seeds for added crunch!

Question from readers:
I bought your recipe book and tried the sugee cookie. It turned out chewy in the centre. Do you know why? Actually I prefer soft texture but I added a little bit ofbaking soda. I baked for about 10 mins at 160 degree C in my baby belling centre shelf. The size is about 20 cents coin. Some the the egg wash flowed down and it got stuck on the tray. The egg wash also looks thick after baking, is it not enough water added to the yolk? Please advise on the above. Thank you very much.
Answer:Dear Reader,
If the sugee cookies are chewy in the centre, it can be due to insufficient baking. Baking the cookies longer will solve this problem. The other reason could be that the oven was not preheated to the stated temperature in the cookbook. The oven needs to be at the stated temperature the moment the cookies are put in to bake.
Baking soda helps give the cookies a crunchy texture. If you prefer soft sugee cookies, you can totally omit this ingredient.
If the egg wash looks too thick after baking, you can add more water to the yolk before brushing. If the egg wash flows to the tray and gets stuck there, perhaps you can try 'stroking' away excess egg wash against the side of a bowl, then brush on the cookies. So that there is only a very thin layer of egg wash on the cookies.