My biggest baking nemesis to date has got to be bread. Yes I’ve made ‘nice’ breads before but I’ve honestly never felt like I ‘got it’… until now. I was lucky enough to receive James Morton’s book Brilliant Bread (Great British Bake Off Runner Up 2012) for Christmas and I happened to stumble across the easiest recipe for bread I have EVER seen. There’s no measuring, no kneading & pretty much no faff whatsoever! Yet it’s hands down, the most beautiful bread I have ever created in my kitchen. So, without further ado, here is what you will need to make 1 large loaf.
And that’s it! All you need to do is pick a mug. Any mug.
Fill it two and a quarter times with flour and tip it all into a bowl.
Add in the yeast and rub briefly again.
Fill the very same mug with tepid water. (By ‘tepid’ James means when you put a finger in, if you can’t tell whether it’s hot or cold – it’s just right.)
Pour this into the centre of the bowl and bring the mixture together using a wooden spoon.
It’s also worth noting, this is quite a wet dough. I have been assured by this book that ‘wetter is better’ and judging from the results I’ve had… I totally agree!
When it’s rested, using wet hands (keep wetting if they start to stick) slide your fingers underneath the dough then fold it in half firmly. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat the fold again. Continue to do this until there is no more air left in the dough and it’s a smooth ball.
James’ Tip: If you need to go out, simply put your dough in the fridge. It will slow down that 1 hour process to about 8-12 hours.)
At this point, you could shape it into a ball or divide & shape into some rolls. I opted for a simple batard loaf.
For great shaping advice you really should invest in James’ book. It’s got fantastic step by step picture guides for it – a man after my own heart! Failing that, get yourself on YouTube if you are stuck for ideas/techniques – there are hundreds of guides to shaping all the bread types you can think of!
This time, I decided to use my new proving basket (or banneton.) If you also have one, flour very generously and lay your shaped loaf in the base – bottom/seam side up. If you don’t have one, simply line a baking sheet with baking paper and sprinkle generously with a coarse flour, like corn meal or semolina. Lay your shaped bread on top. (If you don’t have a coarse flour, just generously use normal flour.)
Either way, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to prove until doubled in size again. (Approx 1 hour.)
At least half an hour before baking – Preheat your oven to about 230/240°C (regardless of electric or fan ovens.)
It’s also worth mentioning your baking surface at this point. Ever noticed when you bake bread at home that you end up with a line of dense stodge at the bottom? It’s because the surface that you baked it on wasn’t as hot as the air in your oven, resulting in an uneven bake. To stop this from happening, get a baking stone and place it in the oven before you preheat it. If you don’t have a stone, turn a large baking sheet upside down – you will achieve a similar result.
If you used a proving basket, cut a large sheet of baking paper and place over the basket. Flip it over and place on a baking sheet then gently remove the basket to reveal a beautiful ‘artisan’ looking pattern!
Now to bake:
1. With the loaf still on the baking parchment, slide it off the baking tray and onto the preheated baking stone/upside down baking sheet.
2. Throw half a mug of cold water on the bottom of the oven and quickly shut the door. (Creating steam which will help it rise.)
3. Turn your oven down to about 210°C.
4. Cook for at least 40 minutes until you get a good, dark golden crust.
5. When cooked, allow to cool before you cut into it… I know it’s difficult but just trust me.
I only have one thing to say, James Morton… you are a bread genius! Thanks to you I finally feel like I’m starting to understand bread. Since trying this recipe for the first time about 2 weeks ago, I’ve made it another 5 or 6 times at least! I’m literally hooked and can’t wait to try the next variation!
If you have never really made bread before but are wanting to get into it, this is a fantastic way of learning what bread should really be/feel like. Definitely an excellent learning curve for me and one that I’m truly excited to see how it develops!
I sincerely hope you all enjoyed the post my lovelies, until next week.