Monday, 4 March 2013

Holy Grail Cooking # 5: Use Your Loaf

The beginning of what feels like the first promises of Spring, the start of another 31 Days of Nothing, the fact that it is difficult to find a loaf of bread for less than £1.30; all are good reasons to turn over a new leaf and begin making bread.

Encouraged by my new worktop protector (shown left) from the Imperial War Museum range by Denby, which features poster designs from war-time, I decided to "use my loaf", and my triceps, rather than buy a bread-making machine. The bold and colourful collection - “Eat Your Words” - from which my worktop protector (left) comes, is inspired by the Ministry of Food’s campaign to educate the public in healthy eating during rationing. 

The only thing I was up against, after all, was inexperience, not a lack of butter, or sugar, or a lack of sleep due to air raids. I also felt inspired by a Live Better + Save Money feature in the March edition of Essentials magazine which included a how-to on bread-making by hand. If you would also like to give it a try, here are Essentials' instructions. 

What you need: 
225g strong white bread flour + extra, for dusting
7g sachet of fast-action yeast
1 tsp caster sugar (or you could probably crush granulated sugar if you didn't have any)
1 tsp sea-salt, crushed + extra to sprinkle on top
3 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin is best)
1 tbsp sunflower, poppy or sesame seeds (optional)
Somewhere warm (next to the kettle does not count)

1. Mix the flour, yeast, sugar and crushed salt in a large bowl. Make a hollow in the middle of the mixture and pour in 170g warm water and 2 tbsp oil. Mix with a spoon or your hands, until you have a soft dough. 

2. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes. Dust a baking tray with flour and place the dough, shaped into a round loaf, onto it. Cover with clingfilm and leave for an hour somewhere warm, like in front of the woodburner, until doubled in size.

3. Heat oven to 200 degrees C. Remove the clingfilm and score the dough with a knife. Drizzle with remaining oil and sprinkle salt and seeds on the top. Bake for just over half-an-hour until golden brown.

We love eating this delicious loaf straight from the oven with a bowl of soup on Friday nights.

Cash spent today: None, but £44 on weekly grocery shop (paid with credit card on Asda online). We now have food coming out of our ears and not enough space in the fridge for the 2kg of SmartPrice carrots I ordered. Hasty carrot-based recipe research required this evening. 

Random Awesome thing (from 1000 Awesome Things):#412 The air just before a thunderstorm

Today I am grateful for: no food rationing.

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