Until yesterday, I felt a little embarrassed to have bought a bread machine ... truth to tell, though, my handmade (artisan?!) bread has always been a little hit and miss: either delicious - or else so heavy as to be barely edible (even using the same recipe). I've inflicted this on my family for years, and they have put up with it with characteristic humour (also on occasion other characteristic reactions which I think I will not share).
The bread machine makes it all so simple. And edible. Every time. Every single time. And you don't have to bake your dough in the funny machine shape, you can whip out the dough and shape it however you'd like. Last week I made dough sticks, foccacia, fougasse, pizza, and rolls. All delicious, light, airy - also no trouble. (Hence, I suspect, my embarrassment.)
Yesterday, I bought flour from Wessex Mills, ground from wheat mostly grown around half an hour from here, at five named farms, one of which I can picture, and at least two more of which I have driven past. And the resulting bread, made in under two hours automatically on the rapid setting while I was at a meeting, was ... wonderful. The wheat was grown at Ash Farm, West Hagbourne; Manor Farm, Westcott Barton; Shalstone Manor, Shalstone; Woodway Farm, Aston Rowant; Church Farm, Lewknor. How's that for traceability?
Quick white bread in a machine
1 tsp quick yeast
400g strong white flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
280 ml water
I used demerara sugar because it was there. In future I plan to use honey or maple syrup (lovely lovely Christmas present) or molasses, all of which will add depth of flavour. I use Maldon salt for everything.
My machine is Panasonic, so I always start with yeast then flour, adding liquids last. I gather other machines require you to add ingredients in other ways.
Set the machine to basic/rapid/medium. That takes just under two hours in mine.
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