The Starter Loaf - BC20 Back to Basics
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This is an exercise for new bakers...or those whose baking is limited to the recipes that exist within one or more of the books you regularly got to and that may well sit on a shelf somewhere in your home.
Our first instinct as new bakers is to go to the recipe book. But, once we start doing that, we gradually run the risk of being drawn into a cycle of dependence.
After a while, our repertoire becomes limited to what’s in that book, the next book, or the one after that.
We simply become slaves to the book…and may fail to develop as real, creative bakers.
Our baking becomes ‘flat pack’ rather than ‘craftsmanship’
Today, I'm going to show you how to build a basic formula. We're building it around key ingredients and key principles.
We start with flour
Let's not complicate it at this stage. Just go out and buy a bag of strong bread flour. Look at the protein level on the side of the packet. Choose one where the protein level is 12% or higher. That will ensure you have flour that will deliver a good gluten network. And gluten means good bread.
Then we need water
If you have chlorinated water, leave it to stand until the chlorine has dissipated. Alternatively, buy some supermarket own-brand cheap-and-cheerful bottled water.
We need some salt
Table salt, kosher salt, sea salt....just try and avoid the iodised cooking salt. Iodised salt can affect the taste of the bread.
And finally, some yeast
At this stage on your bread-baking journey, I'd recommend instant active yeast. It's dried. It doesn't need activating and it can simply be added to your ingredients.
Those are the four main ingredients that we need for bread. After that, any other additional ingredients are there for specific reasons.
We're going to add two today.
We're going to add fat.
Fat covers the gluten strands and makes the crumb and the crust moist and tender. It helps extend the shelf life of the bread.
We're going to add butter...but you can add oil or vegetable shortening if you wish.
And, very finally....we're adding sugar.
Tip the flour and salt into a large bowl and mix.