ne upside of being in lockdown is that it’s given me some time to bake for myself like I used to! Have a little experiment and see what happens. One of the fruits of my labour was my ‘Lockdown Bread’. I thought I would just give it a go and see what happened. I’ve made bread in the past…many moons ago but I can’t remember how I would have done it, and definitely would have followed a recipe. I saw someone online post that they made a 3 ingredient bread…so I thought I would give it a try.
One of my biggest bug bears in baking is recipes that use “cups” as a measurement. It’s inaccurate, inconsistent and also in the UK, we don’t have the standard cup size measurement that they have in other parts of the world. So, instead of faffing about trying to work out what they had done, I thought I would wing it and make my own!
Technically mine is 4 ingredients as I used two types of flour, but I reckon you could get away with just plain flour! So here we go…
Makes 1 Loaf - if you want to double the recipe please see the notes at the bottom.
250g Plain Flour
125g Self Raising Flour
1/2 a Sachet (4g) Dried Yeast
In a microwavable bowl, warm your water. I did mine in the microwave for 60-90 seconds. You want the water to be slightly warmer than lukewarm. Too hot, and you’ll kill the yeast, not warm enough and the yeast won’t activate. Who knew yeast was so kneady! (I actually just laughed out loud at my own joke - I’m sorry!).
Add the yeast to your water and let it “balloon”. I have no idea why it’s called this but it basically goes a bit foamy. This picture is as it has started to work, can you see the outer parts have started to activate and the middle hasn’t started yet.
Weigh out your flour into a big mixing bowl, and add your water mixture. Combine it all together as best you can with a spoon (you can use your hands if you wish, if you’ve watched my live Bake-a-Longs you’ll know I can’t stand having messy hands so I use a spoon for as much of it as I can!).
Once it’s combined turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a smooth ball. It can be quite a wet dough, try not to add too much flour if you can help it, my tip would be to flour your hands. Not the dough.
100 years ago I watched an old Italian lady make bread and she put a tiny bit of olive oil in the bowl and wiped it around before adding the bread. I do this….just because I copied her. I don’t think it’s an official step! I know some people do it and some people don’t.
So you can wipe the inside with a little olive oil, before returning the ball of dough back to the bowl - make sure your bowl is big enough, as mine tripled in size so you need to allow for this. Cover with clingfilm or a tea towel.
You now need to “prove” your bread. Which essentially is allowing it to rise. Yeast needs somewhere warm for this to happen. I put mine in the airing cupboard. If you don’t have somewhere warm you can place the bread on the top shelf of your oven and put a bowl of boiling water on the bottom shelf. You will need to change the water every now and again to keep the oven warm.
Leave for 3-4 hours.
When you go back to it, it should be nice and big!
Now preheat your oven to 180//350/Gas Mark 4.
Lightly flour your surface and turn your bread out, this is the time to add your flavours if you are using them. I made double the amount so I added rosemary and sea salt to one half and olives to the other. - you can add as much or as little as you want of these, this shouldn’t affect the consistency of the dough.
If you’re keeping your bread plain you might want to just add a pinch of salt at this point.
Add your ingredients to the dough and knead again so the flavours are distributed evenly and you have a smooth ball. Place it on a baking tray (lined with baking/parchment paper) and put it in the oven for 40 minutes.
To check if it’s cooked, insert a knife or a skewer into the middle - if it comes out clean, you’re good to go! If not, pop it back for a further 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can tap the top of the loaf and if it sounds hollow it’s cooked.
Crusty on the outside, fluffy on the inside - Lockdown Bread!
I made double the amount because I didn’t want half a sachet of yeast leftover. If you double the recipe use 450ml of water instead of 550ml.
Cheese - I would add 50g of cheese to the dough and then sprinkle some on top before baking.
Chilli - you could add some chilli flakes (guessing most people don’t have fresh chillis lying about at the moment!). Or combine chilli and cheese!
Rosemary and sea salt - this is the first one I tried. Recommend (lol!)
Olive - I only had green olives, black would probably be better
Just have a play, some of the best things I have ever made have been things I just tried to see what would happen.
I hope you are all ok and that this gives you something to do whilst we all stay at home. Take cake and tag me in your pics if you give this a go!