Carbs. Everywhere I look, people are freaked out by carbs. “It’s empty calories,” they say. “You’ll end up being a lardass,” they whine. To them I say: Carbs are fuel. Eat wisely, and you won’t have a problem. And you know what? Sometimes I like a nice, big hunk of fresh, steaming crusty bread and there is nothing wrong with that.
The great thing about making your own bread is control. You have control over everything. You have control over its shape, its form, its flavour, its preservatives (or lack thereof), its size, its look and its taste. With this in mind, I’ve gone for a delicious rosemary and olive soy and linseed bread. I’d call it a “cob” or a “loaf” but its shape turned out alien to me and not one that could really be defined.
For a nice, big, fat loaf, you will need:
– 600gm bread flour (I actually really like the brand Laucke, it’s good quality and seems to yield consistently good results. This time I went with their soy and linseed variety, but you could really go with whatever you wanted). Bread flour has salt in it already, so you definitely shouldn’t add any unless you enjoy eating playdough.
– 6gm yeast (the instant, fast acting one is the easiest…and if you buy Laucke flour, it comes in the pack -woohoo)
– 1 and 1/3 cups of warm water
– 2 tablespoons of olive oil
– 1 teaspoon of sugar
– 3 sprigs of rosemary
– 1 cup of olives, pitted
Step one – I knead you. I did myself a favour and went down and bought a mixer with dough hooks in the last lot of sales. You don’t actually need one – centuries of people have learnt to do something crazy, which we don’t seem to do today: they used manual labour. That said, I have gone down the lazy route of using a mixer and as I like to think of myself as a busy girl in a busy world, that option definitely trumps a hell of a lot of effort involved in kneading dough for 10 minutes. Chuck all of the ingredients except the olives in the bowl, attach the dough hooks and let her rip for about 10 mintues. You want the dough to be nice and elastic-y and not too sticky. Once you’re happy, you need to let the dough rise. At this point, I added the cup of olives and just mixed it in, myself. Given that I was making this dough in the butt-crack of winter, I devised a method of turning the oven on to literally about 50 degrees for a couple of minutes, and then putting the dough in a bowl, loosely covered by glad wrap, in the oven. Let it sit for about an hour, or until it’s doubled in size.
Step 2 – the punchdown: after the dough has had some time to hang out with its mates, you need to punch down the dough. The first rise is to get this yeast activated to it makes the bread nice, light, tall and springy. The punchdown is to remove the air from the dough, to allow a second rise, where the gluten in the bread will do its thang. Literally form a fist, and punch the dough. Roll it about a bit, and then place it on your baking tray in whatever form you wish. You could use a loaf tin, or just do what I did and go with it (….warning: you’ll end up with an ugly monstrosity). Let this hang out for another 30 minutes
Step 3 – what’s cooking, good looking: Preheat your oven to 190 degrees, fan forced. Chuck your dough in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. When the bread is looking nice and golden, pull it out and given it a check. Tap the loaf – if it sounds hollow, it’s done. Once it’s out of the oven, let it hang out for about 20 minutes to cool down (and it’ll keep cooking a little bit too).
Step 4 – enjoy the fruits of your machine’s labour: