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The Joy of Baking

It's been ages since I have desired to bake my very own bread at home . We consume quite a lot of bread at kids love it and I have to run frequent errands to the supermarket or bakeries to stock up.

It's been there on my list but did not get down to baking. Three weeks ago I bought a basic bread tin and it sat right in front of my kitchen door for many days . I would stare at it and put it off for the next day which never came....until yesterday.

Even though I have baked bread at Hospitality School , I was'nt much of a baker..I did bake buicuits and cakes occasionally but I did not take it further.

I love the idea of multi grain , or herbed or gluten free breads... and over the past years "organic" breads have gained popularity. When I travel to India , I really miss the fresh-no preservative , organic breads.I had no idea what I have been missing till a few moths ago when my dear friend Feryal sent me pictures of the bread she had baked at her home . Looking at the pictures, I knew I wanted to experience that joy ...She mentioned to me that once I started baking , I will not stop... and shared her recipe with me .

So after days of gazing at the bread tin, I decided to take the plunge. I started with the simple recipe sent to me , adapted from Delia Smith's white loaf recipes and am looking forward to continue baking and experimenting with different grains and flavours...and sharing this joy with you!

Loaves and loaves of bread!

Ingredients: (Makes 4 medium sized loaves)

2 ¼ lb (a little over 1 kg) wholemeal bread flour

2 ¼ lb white bread flour

1 tblsp (15 g) of quick yeast, can be dried yeast granules in sachets

1 tblsp of salt

1.3 litres of hand-hot water

To prepare:

1. Add the water to the other ingredients. Mix.

2. Some cooks, celebrity chefs in particular advise you to mix the bread directly on the work surface creating a wall of flour and pouring the water in the middle. I think this over-complicates the simple process of breadmaking and is unecessary . Bung it all in a big bowl and save yourself the mess.

3. Once the dough has come together take it out of the bowl and knead it.

4. Most recipes tell you to knead for 10 minutes. I find 4 minutes is perfectly adequate.

5. I've noticed that some cookery writers say the dough should be quite wet when kneading. I find it impossible to manage if it is too sticky and I like to flour my work top as I knead. I have tried the sticky method and not found the resulting bread to be any better.

6. Turn the dough into a bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave it alone for two hours at room temperature. You absolutely do not need to put bread dough anywhere warm to rise. It will rise all by itself. You can even put it in the fridge and let it rise slowly overnight.

7. After two hours the dough will have doubled in size. Punch it down to knock out all the air. Scoop the dough out of the bowl and give it a quick knead.

8. Cut the dough into four pieces. I rarely get them equal. Form the pieces into loaf shapes tucking the ends under. Place in buttered tins. Butter works better than oil I've found.

9. Of course you don't need a tin to bake bread, but if you do have tins you can bake more loaves in one go.

10.Cover with a damp cloth again and leave to prove for about half an hour.

11. After which time the dough will have risen again to the tops of the tins.

12. Put the tins in the oven at 220 °c/ 200°c fan oven for 40 minutes. The loaves should sound hollow on the bottom if you tap them with your knuckles. The butter will make the loaves slide out of the tins.

13. Allow to cool very well before slicing.

When cooled slice and enjoy!

Note: Quality of water makes a lot of difference to the bread.

You can apply an egg wash and sesame seeds prior to baking for a shine.

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