Working full time often brings the full time work blues with it. I find this manifests in several different ways. An unhealthy attachment to the stationary catalogue. Borderline abusive relationships with excel spreadsheets. And occasionally hypothesising a new pokemon based on office supplies.

I've found several ways to combat the crazy. The first is pretending I work on a film set and dressing appropriately. Today I am a secretary in the 50's. Tomorrow, I will be a secretary in the 80's. Next week? I will be an administrative assistant from the future.

The other - making everyone hella jealous of your packed lunch. You know what works every time? Toasting your homemade bread in the staff kitchen. Nothing smells better.

Remember when I told you to go out and make bread? If you didn't you should really try this recipe. A method to save you from the mid-week malaise is at hand. Slightly adapted from this marvelous recipe.

For this recipe you

Do not need to knead anything
Do not need a bread maker
Do need to be able to leave this sucker overnight. It takes about two minutes to mix, 12 - 18 hours to rise, two minutes to mix again, and another hour or so to rise for a second time. Planning is sometimes required!

What you will need
  • 3 cups baker's flour.
Baker's flour is not ordinary plain flour, and it is not breadmaker mix. It will be marked as "baker's" or "strong" or for bread and pizza dough. There should be some at your local supermarket or health food store. Don't get anything with yeast already added!
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1/8 tsp instant yeast
Not interchangeable with "active" yeast. Instant yeast you can add to the dry mix, active you have to add to water and let froth. We're going for super easy instant here.
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tbsp white or caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tbs vegetable oil, or 3 tbs melted butter, plus a bit extra.

What you will need to do:

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. The dough is going to double in size, so make sure it's large enough.

If you're me, you probably think 1/8 of a tsp of yeast isn't enough and add a bit more just to make sure things happen. Control yourselves! 1/8 is plenty, I promise.

Add the oil or melted butter to the lukewarm water, just to make things a bit easier, and then mix the wet ingredients with the dry. There's no art here, just whack them all together, make sure all the dry stuff gets wet.

Drizzle a bit of oil or butter over the top of the mix, spread to cover. This is to make sure the surface doesn't dry out while the dough is rising.

Cover with clingwrap and leave for 12 - 18 hours. Make sure you don't leave it somewhere too cold or too hot. I leave it in the laundry in summer and the kitchen in winter.

12 - 18 hours later it should have risen. Deflate by stirring well with a wooden spoon.

Grease a loaf tin, and turn the dough out into it. Make sure it's relatively evenly distributed, not just sitting in a lump in the middle. This will take some scientific pushing and prodding.

Dust the top with a bit of flour. Leave in a warmish place to rise again.

When the dough has risen to about 1/4 inch above the loaf tin (probably a minimum 40 minutes, and definitely a maximum 2 hours before it starts to look like the blob), preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius.

Put the tin in carefully - we don't want it to deflate this time.

Bake for about 35 - 50 minutes, or until it is browned and crisp on the outside. People say you can tell bread is done if you knock on it and it sounds hollow. This has never, ever worked for me. It should definitely be crisp enough for you to knock on it though, and then feel free to disregard whatever noise it makes.

This is the really hard part: let it cool. Don't cut into this baby for at least 3 or 4 hours.

And then? Then you get to go to town. Or work! And make that hole-punching pokemon jealous. It's especially good toasted with soup or stew. Or pasta sauce, or curry. Or pretty much anything! Enjoy while listening to the following workaday ditties:

Frankly Mr Shankly - The Smiths
Expectations - Belle and Sebastian
Middle of the Road Class War - G.A. Richards and the Dark Satanic Mills Bros.

1 comment:

  1. I do not tell you nearly often enough how much I love you. Am going to make your bread tomorrow. Will tell you how it goes.