Bread is one of the simplest and most basic thing you can bake. All it takes is a little time and energy…
In the book, Mac gets to take his frustration out on his bread dough; if you’re not angry with someone while making it, you might want to put some music on before you start – around five minutes into the kneading portion I’m usually pretty bored, and my hands are too doughy to put on the radio.
So, why should you want to make bread? I’ll let Lottie and Mac tell you:
“Bread.” Mac spat the word out. “Bog standard, boring bread. The sort you can buy anywhere. Explain to me why anyone would bother to make their own bread?”
He looked up at me for the last part, as if he actually expected an answer, so I said, “It tastes better than the shop-bought stuff.”
Lottie’s right – real bread is denser and more flavoursome than the stuff you buy in the shop.
“You’ve done this before, then? Of course you have. You’ve baked everything” He turned to the sink to wash his hands.
“I used to watch my dad do it,” I corrected him. “But I think I remember.”
“Good. You can be in charge of the recipe. Miss Anderson says I have to do the first part now to have it ready to bake tonight.”
I nodded. “It’ll need to rise this afternoon.”
“Whatever. What do I do first?”
I’m glad you asked, Mac!
- 500g strong white flour (I actually used wholemeal, because that’s what I had in the house.)
- 2tsp salt
- 7g sachet of fast action yeast
- 300ml lukewarm water, mixed with 2tbsp olive oil
Put the flour, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl and stir together
Make a well in centre and pour in the water and oil
Mix to a soft dough, then turn out onto a lightly floured work surface
Knead thoroughly for ten minutes
“Now you need to knead it.”
Mac gave me a baffled look. “I need to need it?”
“Knead. With a K.” Washing my hands, I sprinkled some flour on the surface and held my hand out for the bowl. “Don’t worry, given your practice as the human mixer, this should be easy.”
I tipped the dough onto the flour, dusted my hands, and began to knead the dough, pushing it away from me then pulling it back over itself, turning it by ninety degrees every now and then.
“My turn,” Mac said, and I stepped aside without complaint. Kneading is hard work.
Oil a 900g loaf tin and place the dough inside
Cover and leave to rise for 1 hour
Heat the oven to 200°C / fan 180°C / gas mark 6
Slash the top with a sharp knife, then bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until risen and golden
Tip out onto a cooling rack and tap the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow it’s cooked
Leave to cool for a few hours (or, if you’re me, cut it warm and eat it slathered with butter!)
Don’t forget, if you’ve been baking yourself, I’d love to see the photos! Share them on Twitter using #lottie4mac and I’ll add them to the gallery.