Chef Jeffers: Our Daily Bread
Hi Forestside folk, hope you're having a fantastic Easter break. I don't know if any of you guys have ever made bread? If not, I want to give you an easy introduction to what most of us eat every day but never think of having a go at making. So let's get started making your own bread at home. It's fantastic fun and you can get the whole family involved.
My recipes need no bread makers or even mixers, it's all done by hand as it was done in the beginning. I'm going to show how you to make two easy but brilliant breads, one can be made in minutes and the others is more of a labour of love.
There are so many different types of breads and ways of making bread, but let's start with a local bread for us in Northern Ireland: the good old wheaten bread. It's so easy, it freezes really well and last 3 - 4 days in your bread bin (if it lasts that long lol!).
Some dos and don'ts when working with Irish style bread making:
1. Less is more, what I mean here is the less you handle the dough, the better the bread. This is the exact opposite to making bread with yeast.
2. Always use buttermilk when stated as this activates the bicarbonate of soda which is normally in recipes for Irish breads.
3. Do use good ingredients ie. jumbo oats, good flour, local buttermilk & real butter (not a butter substitute) and lots of love.
So here's your first recipe, let's get started.
Buttermilk wheaten bread
250g medium whole meal flour
250g coarse whole meal flour
100g jumbo oats
1 tsp Maldon sea salt
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
1 pint carton of buttermilk
2 tbsp treacle
2 tbsp golden syrup
Firstly mix well both flours & 3/4 oats in a mixing bowl.
Now slightly heat milk, treacle & golden syrup until just warm in a saucepan.
Add warm milk to flour, add salt then finish by adding bicarbonate of soda .
Place mixture into well buttered 1lb loaf tin, sprinkle with remaining oats and bake at 180c for 1 hour.
The second bread we are going to make is a yeast based bread and is super, really easy bread to make: its the Italian Focaccia. The whole difference between this bread and wheaten is that there is far more time and handling involved. Don't let this put you off because it's a really superb bread.
So again some dos and dont's when making yeast based breads:
1. Always use really strong bread flour or OO flour which can be used when making pizza dough & pasta dough.
2. Temperature is key to a great bread. Temperature of water or flour to activate the yeast is really important .
3. Never, ever set salt on top of yeast for a long period of time as salt kills the bacteria within the yeast and your bread won't rise .
4. Experiment with the flavours in your bread. Add herbs, olives, cheeses, sundried tomatoes, capers or caramelised onions. Have fun and get baking.
5. Kneading is really important, you can check some fantastic little video blogs on YouTube to learn techniques .
Here's my wonderful authentic slab of great bread...
Focaccia with rosemary, sea salt & olive oil
500g bread flour (OO)
15g instant yeast
15g olive oil
Rosemary, Maldon sea salt, 20ml olive oil mixed with warm water.
1. Gently warm flour, sugar & yeast in a tray in an oven for a few minutes at 70c.
2. Now add salt, slowly add water, oil & melted margarine.
3. Knead for 15 minutes until glossy.
4. Put into an oiled bowl to prove. Cover with cling film for 1hr in the warmest area in your home.
5. Knock back really gently, now place on an oiled & salted baking tray and rest for another ten minutes.
6. Make holes with your fingers. Mix together 20ml of olive oil & warm water and bring to a boil. Brush Foccacia with water and olive oil solution. Sprinkle over fresh rosemary & Maldon rock salt and bake at 220c in an oven for 20 minutes.