I wouldn't consider myself a truly accomplished chef by any means, but I feel I can throw a few things together that taste pretty good, if I do say so myself. So I feel I am pretty confident to tackle most things in the Kitchen, but bread, bread scares me.
You see, its all a bit scientific for me, by which I mean with most other forms of cooking you can guess most of the measures, weights etc, but for someone like me, bread is like some form of advanced mathematics.
Which is how I get round to my skills as a chef. Like I said by todays standards I am quite capable in the kitchen, but I can't help but feel that in the world we live in now, skills such as bread baking have been pushed aside, for example my grandma could bake bread by the age of 12, yet no doubt she would not consider herself a great chef.
I guess my point is that can we claim to be 'skilled' in the kitchen, if you cannot bake a simple loaf of bread?
You will need;
1/2 Kg Strong Bread Flour,
1 x 7gm Packet of Active yeast,
300 ml lukewarm water,
1 tsp salt,
How it happened;
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, make a well in the center of the flour,
Stir in the yeast and water and mix into a soft dough by hand.
Empty out onto a clean, floured surface and knead for 10 minutes (trust me it needs the 10 minutes, its hard work getting past the first 6 minutes but after that your on the home straight, it will be worth it).
Shape the dough and place into a clean bowl and cover with a damp tea towel.
Place it somewhere, ideally warm and moist, an airing cupboard or the cupboard next to your oven. I placed mine in my airing cupboard and it worked great.
Leave to rise for about 45 minutes depending on your conditions, or until doubled in size, covering it with cling film is a good way to speed things along.
Once the dough has doubled in size, take it out and knock it about for a bit, basically bash the air out of it.
After that place it in your loaf tin, or on to a baking tray (whatever your using) and cover and repeat the proving (letting it rise) process again. This will help to improve the texture of the finish of the bread.
Once it has proven for another 45 minutes or doubled in size, place gently (you are trying to keep as much air in as possible at this point) into a preheated oven, gas mark 4 or 180'c for about 25-30 minutes, you can check is if it ready by tapping the base, if you hear a hollow sound its ready, if not pop it back in.
Once cooked place on a cooling rack and try and resist eating the whole lot in one sitting :)