Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Farmhouse Loaf

My husband and I have recently started making bread in an attempt to save money. We have a bread machine so this isn't much effort and my husband is very good at setting it up to get a reasonable loaf. However, we've had a few problems with the loaf sinking so we achieve a flat top, in the instructions there is a trouble shooting page and we do need to go through that, but I decided it was time I made some by hand and see how that turns out. 

I looked in a couple of books and decided to go with Mary Berry's recipe from her complete cookbook. It looked like a basic loaf that just contained a few simple ingredients. It was for a 2lb loaf, which I believe is bigger than we normally make, so I'm hoping it'll also go a bit further. 

The recipe starts off with combining the butter and the flour to create breadcrumbs, very easy, and then add the salt and yeast. This is all stirred together and then lukewarm water is added to bring it together as a dough. Knead this on a little floured surface until it is a smooth dough, place in an oiled bowl and leave to rise for an hour or so. For convenience I left mine for 2 hours and it nicely rose to double the size. 
This rose very nicely to fill the bowl
I then turned the bread out onto a floured surface and punched out all the air, kneaded it for a few minutes and then placed in an oiled loaf tin. 
Just put in the tin for it's final rise
I left this to rise for the allocated 30 minutes and then it went in the oven. 
Ready to go in the oven
The bread itself is very easy to make and didn't require very much effort, the hardest part for me was the energy required to knead the dough. I enjoy making bread, it's quite therapeutic!! The recipe uses much more flour than our bread machine, 750g, this seems like a large amount and I need to look up whether this is usual. However, it doesn't use milk powder or sugar like the machine does. 

I cooked the bread for 30mins and it came out slightly brown, I took it out of the tin and tapped the bottom. I think it sounded hollow but when I sliced it I noticed that some areas of the bread weren't quite cooked yet so decided to cook it for a little longer. It certainly rose out of the tin though and produced a large loaf of bread!! 

After 10 more minutes I got the bread out for another look, once opened up it still didn't look fully cooked but I decided to leave it to cool this time. But first I cut myself a slice, fresh homemade bread is delicious!
Inside the loaf

Out of the tin and looking good

My verdict is that this bread is really tasty, if slightly under cooked. Next time I'll leave it in the oven a little longer and turn the heat down as the recipe required a quite high temperature of 230oC. The bread definately has a lovely crust to it, something we don't get in our bread machine, and I think it also tastes much nicer. Something I would definitely consider doing again as it's not much effort and produces such a lovely loaf which rose beautifully.

I would like to add a few additional notes to this blog. My husband really liked the bread and said if we were marking it would get a 8 or 9/10. After a night on the side cooling down the loaf is much better. This morning the bread looks fully cooked through and is very tasty. Lost its crunchy top but really tasty.