& COOKING ARTICLE
written by Paul Campbell, founder of Local
of the incredible things I have noticed recently is
how few genuine bakers there are around people
making delicious, fresh bread from good ingredients
and without preservatives.
Real bread is skilfully made from four simple ingredients:
yeast, flour, water and salt and in sourdough
there isnt even any yeast! Compare that to the
extensive ingredients lists that are impossible to
decipher on the packaging of industrially produced
bread they are worlds apart.
When we talk about something being the best
thing since sliced bread, Im not sure
were really on the right track. Id take
a freshly baked rustic loaf with a flavoursome crust
above a preservative-filled, generic, perfectly sliced
bread any day even if does require getting
a breadknife out!
I was having a look online for some statistics to
include in this post and I came across a really interesting
campaign the Real
Bread campaign is a lottery funded project
run by Sustain: the alliance for better food
and farming. I was interested to see that one
of their criteria for real bread is that
at least 20% of the ingredients are locally sourced
good on em!
Reading up on them I found the stats I was looking
for that 95% of bread in the UK is produced
by a handful of industrial bakers and in supermarkets.
The problem is that this bread is so over-processed
that its not healthy any more, and has become
part of the national problem of unhealthy eating.
I recommend having a look at the Real Bread campaigns
to the campaign page it outlines
the argument really interestingly.
I see bread as another example of the shift our society
has made away from local suppliers and towards mass-produced
food but Im glad to say the tide is turning.
We have more and more customers requesting real
bread with their deliveries and are really happy
to work with Dozen Artisan Bakery in Norwich, where
all the bread is baked using traditional methods and
As far as local produce goes, bread is one of the
things that really is better when its bought
locally the closer you are to the oven its
baked in, the fewer preservatives are needed, the
better the ingredients will be, the fresher the loaf
on your table will be and the better the taste.
BASIC REAL BREAD
worry that this recipe looks rather long - its
actually just a case of chuck it in a bowl, work
until smooth and stretchy, leave to rise, shape, leave
to rise again and bake.
However, as you dont have an experienced baker
there on hand to show you how, rather than make assumptions,
we wanted to give a bit more detail, which hopefully
will answer most of your questions. As with all recipes,
please read to the end before starting.
500g stoneground bread (strong) flour white,
wholemeal or a combination of the two
340g hand warm (about 25°C) water see
note below on this
10g fresh yeast or 5g dried active yeast (not the
stuff that says instant, easy bake, fast acting, etc)
A little (about 1 tsp) oil, butter etc for the baking
Large mixing bowl
Electronic scales (or scales and measuring spoons)
and measuring jug
Baking tray or large loaf tin
A clean, damp tea towel or an old but clean plastic
bag (eg a carrier bag)
A wire cooling / cake rack
you start, wash your hands.
Dissolve the salt in the water in the measuring
jug (if using dried active yeast, dissolve this
in the water first and the add the salt).
the flour into a bowl, crumble in the fresh yeast
(if using) and rub it into the flour with your fingertips.
the liquid and stir around with your fingers until
mixed and no dry bits are left.
this point, you can cover the dough and leave it
to rest for ten minutes, which will make kneading
easier, or carry straight on with the next step.
the dough by stretching and folding it over itself
until it is smooth and stretchy. This could take
ten or fifteen minutes, depending on how vigorous
you are. Dont worry if it seems sticky at
first it will get less so as the flour absorbs
the water. Dont add any extra flour.
the dough back into the bowl and cover the bowl
with the tea towel or plastic bag and leave to prove
(rise) until the dough has doubled in size. This
should take about an hour at room temperature (around
20-22ºC) but will be faster if the kitchen
is warm or slower if the kitchen is cold.
the baking tray evenly.
the worksurface, get your hands wet and scrape the
dough out of the bowl. Press gently until you have
a square and then pull each of the corners in turn
into the centre and press in the middle to make
them stick. Flip the ball over, tuck in any corners
and round with your hands until you have a smooth
the dough on the baking tray and cover, either with
the mixing bowl or by sliding the tray into the
plastic bag, making sure that theres plenty
of space between the dough and the cover and leave
to prove again for forty minutes to an hour.
twenty minutes before the end of the proof, turn
the oven on to heat up to 230°C (450°F or
gas mark 8).
the dough carefully, making sure the plastic doesnt
touch it. If you want, you can dust the dough with
flour or brush lightly with milk, beaten egg or
oil for a glossy finish but this is not essential.
Slide the tray into the oven.
for fifteen minutes and then turn the heat down
to 200°C. Continue to bake for another 30-40
oven gloves, remove the baking tray. Put the loaf
onto the cooling rack and cover with the tea towel
Electronic scales are the most accurate way to measure
all of the ingredients but you dont have them,
then use 350ml water, 1tsp salt and 1 ½ tsp
of the way its made, studies have shown stoneground
to be healthier and more nutritious (many people say
it tastes better, too) but you can use roller milled
which is the way that everything that doesnt
say stoneground is produced.
long as the total weight of flour is 500g, then you
can vary the ratio of white to wholemeal. Starting
with almost all white and adding more wholemeal each
time you bake is a good way of introducing healthier,
higher fibre bread to those who are not keen on trying
included in so many recipes, sugar is unnecessary.
The yeast will convert starch in the flour to sugars
to feed on.
340g of water is about right for a mixed loaf. If
you are making a 100% white loaf, then reduce the
water by about 20g. If you are making a 100% wholemeal
loaf, add an extra 20g of water.
be scared of sticky dough - when making bread, the
wetter the better. Adding more flour will make your
dough tighter (stiffer), harder to work, less stretchy
(so wont rise as easily) and lead to a less
moist loaf that will show sighs of staling more quickly.
If you were making ciabatta, for example, youd
use a lot more water than this.
all brands of instant yeast contain artificial additives,
so a loaf made with them wouldnt meet our definition
of Real Bread.
be more energy efficient, bake your Real Bread when
you are using the oven for something else e.g. a Sunday
roast, lasagne or more Real Bread.
making a sandwich loaf in a tin, then instead of pulling
the corners in and shaping into a ball, step 8 would
be shaping the loaf by rolling the square up into
a sausage just shorter than your tin and
placing it in seam side down. Alternatively, you can
shape the dough into eight rolls, place them around
5cm apart on the tray and reduce the baking time to
around 20-25 minutes.
is easier to cut once its cool.
Campbell is the founder of Local Food Direct, a social enterprise
working to give local people access
to local food produced in Norfolk and Suffolk. You can visit
the website here: www.welovelocalfood.co.uk
Hub-UK : firstname.lastname@example.org