I always find it interesting to ask people what their favourite smells are…cut grass, line dried laundry, freshly brewed coffee; one of the other clear favourites seems to be fresh bread.
You don’t need a bread making machine to make your own delicious bread…although it does take some of the effort out. It’s actually very easy, made even easier if you buy ready mixed bread mixture from the supermarket. My herb garden has gone bananas and seems to have tripled in size overnight. To use up some of my herbs, I decided to make herb bread as opposed to regular, plain bread.
I picked my thyme in the morning (a good handful) and stripped the leaves, before finely chopping them (read: I kept seesawing the knife over my pile of leaves to break them up! I didn’t have the finesse of celebrity chefs!) I left them in a ramekin to dry out during the day. Before I began baking, I picked some rosemary for the loaf top (one stalk will be plenty).
I followed the packet recipe to mix my dry mixture with water and mix in a bowl for five minutes; you really need to keep the mixture moving during the five minutes. After leaving it to rest, I kneaded and stretched my dough on a floured board for two minutes, whilst mixing in my thyme leaves, and rested it again for another five minutes.
Top Tip If your dough feels a little sticky when you come to knead it, sprinkle a little flour on it before you start kneading.
My packet instructions said I should put the dough in a lined loaf tin, cover with cling film and leave to prove in a warm place for 30-40 minutes. I didn’t find mine rose too much, certainly not to double the size, however it didn’t affect my loaf. I’ve since been given a tip to knead again and leave to prove again for a second time – whether this would have made it grown more, or whether my airing cupboard needed to be warmer I don’t know. Whether you choose to prove it once or twice, before you allow it to prove for the last time before it goes into the oven, poke your rosemary into the top of the bread…if you do this just before you put your loaf in the oven, you risk your dough collapsing when you prick the dough with the rosemary.
Bake according to the packet instructions; when you take your loaf out of the oven, you should be able to hear a hollow sound if you tap the bottom of your loaf.
The smell that will be radiating from your kitchen will be devine! I couldn’t stop myself slicing it whilst it was still warm and eating it with beautiful olive oil and balsamic vinegar – this worked particularly well with the lemon thyme!
I’m converted, not only am I now a fresh coffee snob, I also want to keep making my own bread.
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