Bread has this reputation as being a difficult part of baking. This is a stigma I want to put an end to.
Yes, to make a decent 8-plaited loaf in 2 hours in a tent is not far off impossible. It’s made more difficult when you’ve got Mr Hollywood’s blue stare burned into your mind, distracting you from your very bare instructions.
But when you’re not against the clock, bread baking is easy. And I mean so easy. Easier than the easiest Victoria Sponge. You don’t need loads of time, you just minutes home, every so often. Today, I’m making a Pain de Campagne. And so far, I’ve spent about 3 minutes in the kitchen:
5.30pm: In a big bowl, mixed flours, yeast, salt, water with a wooden spoon until it formed a dough. Covered with a damp tea towel and left it.
5.35pm: Went to Tesco’s.
6.30pm: Came home, bashed all the air out of my dough.
6.35pm: Began to make and then eat dinner.
7.30pm: Turned out my dough onto a floured surface, made it into a ball and put it in the fridge to prove. (This is the only bit that benefits from a little practice, but once you’ve been shown once it’s easy! Youtube is a great place to learn). If I wasn’t confident shaping, I’d simply roll up and chuck in a loaf tin.
8pm: About to go out to a house party. Could be messy.
In the morning, I’ll preheat my baking stone (or baking tray, if I didn’t have one) for about 40 minutes, take the dough out the fridge, turn it out, score it with a knife and slide my bread onto my hot stone for another 40 minutes-ish.
Done. No difficult processes, just waiting. No patience, even. If you’re going out for any reason, chuck it in the fridge and forget about it.
I urge you to go out and make some bread. All you need is a standard recipe (for White try 500g flour, 360g water, 10g salt, 7g sachet yeast) and some time at home enough to bake. There’s no need to knead.