Baking Bread

Fresh Baked Bread

Bread and Jam ready on the table

Making our own bread has become the standard over the last few years, once you get into homemade bread the alternatives always seem a bit lacking, but in a family of our size this is quite demanding, with whole 2lb loaves disappearing in a single lunch! So we have been looking out for a larger loaf tin for a while, and were pleased to find a nice long bread pan! (you can find it in our CookShop) As it is twice as long as a standard loaf tin we did a double loaf batch, as detailed in the recipe below. I wish I could share the smell of bread cooking with you, it is the most fabulous scent to fill your house with!

We have found the loaf to be a much better size for our family, and have even gone for double batches, making three loaves at once, which is as much dough as anyone can knead at a time!
One of the best bits of making bread at home is just how much you can get the kids involved. Jonathan has become quite adept at weighing out the ingredients and mixing it together in the bowl ready to be pulled together and kneaded. Kneading a whole loaf does take quite a lot of effort and may be beyond a small child, but bread rolls are perfect and can be shaped into interesting shapes.

What you need

  1. 1kg bread flour of your choice
  2. 2tspn salt
  3. 2tspn easy blend dried yeast
  4. 2tablespoons olive oil
  5. 600ml hand hot water

What you do

  1. Place the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together.
  2. Make a well in the centre and pour in the oil and water, then stir in the flour with a broad knife, to make a dough.
  3. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Different flours can vary in absorbency, so you may need to add more flour as you knead.
  4. Oil the bowl and put the dough back into it, covering it with a cloth and leaving it in a warm place to rise. Again the rising will depend upon your choice of flour, with whole meal flour needing a bit longer than white.
  5. Once the dough has doubled in size, tip it back out of the bowl and knead it gently to even it out, then shape it to fit your pan. This recipe fills the kaiser 32cm pan, but could be cut in half to make two 2lb standard loaves.
  6. Oil and flour your bread pans. Roll your shaped dough in flour to coat it and put it in the pan.
  7. Cover and leave it to rise again until it has started to dome out of the loaf pan. Make a couple of shallow cuts diagonally across the top of the loaf before placing in a preheated oven at 200degC for 35mins, or until well risen and golden. Test if it is done by tipping it out of the pan and tapping the bottom. When ready, bread sounds quite hollow, and it is best to cook a little longer than to end up stodgy in the middle.
  8. Leave the bread to cool before slicing.

Make it your own

I like to use a mix of flours, with malted or seeded flours for extra flavour and white to give it a bit of lift. It is fun to experiment. Or you could divide a half recipe into 12 and kneed them into individual rolls and then shape them into something more interesting. Add some poppy seeds or sunflower seeds for added interest.

Bread Knots, Rolls and Hedgehogs

Bread Knots, Rolls and Hedgehogs

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School Holidays Approach

I’ll mention the holidays a few times I am sure, but let me start out by saying that generally we do not take school holidays from our HE. Partly this is because we always holiday during term-time when it is quieter and cheaper, and easier for Neale to book time off work. I also feel that we do not study intensely enough to require a huge break, more that study is gentle and continuous discovery and practice.
In spite of this we are affected by the holidays because all of a sudden the neighbourhood is full of playing kids, calling at all hours, and a lot of our usual activities are on hold. So a happy medium has to be reached, which usually means I get work sessions out of the kids in the morning, but little else! This year I am hoping Cassie at least will work through the holidays as she has quite a lot to do in the next year, and with the art awards to finish by the end of August, Libby will have a goal to hit too.
So, whilst we have not been throwing ourselves wholeheartedly into study we have been ticking over nicely, in spite of heat. Cassie has got stuck into her English language course from Catherine Mooney and is almost done with her art award work. She did a Manga Art workshop for the other kids at our regular monthly HE get together on Friday, which went down very well and now has to be documented as the ” passing on a skill” section of the award.
Libby has been sticking to her effort to spend an hour a day on physics, as well as her maths sessions, and I have managed to keep the boys attention most mornings too! So, all in all, the best you can hope for with the heat and the impending school holiday looming.
Childhood does have to be enjoyed though, and weather like this is rare enough to need special recognition, so we all snuck off to Bolton Abbey on Thursday afternoon for a couple of hours playing in the river Wharfe, while its hot and quiet!