Best Home-made Bread

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This recipe was given to me by my Slovakian auntie. She bakes her own bread on a daily basis.

For a long time I had missed the taste of Β bread that I was used to from home Β so I asked her to send me her recipe.

When I moved to Australia it took me a good couple of years to get used to the white fluffy, cotton wool-tasting bread you buy in the supermarket. And toasting the bread – that’s not the practice at home. Β At least it wasn’t when I was growing up. You don’t really toast rye bread.

Rye bread with caraway seed is the most common variety in the Czech Republic.

One day I used my aunt’s recipe and tried to bake my own bread that tasted like the one from home. And I succeeded.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some wonderful bakeries here in and around Melbourne baking the most amazing sourdough I’ve ever tasted. For example The Red Beard in Trentham that we visit quite often.

But still, the first thing I go for when I get home to Prague is bread. Fresh, not toasted, plain, just like that, yum…

Or with a spread of home-made lard and thinly sliced onion and lots of salt. Not so good for my waistline though πŸ™‚

Try baking your own bread. It’s quite easy. And the reward? Two loaves of preservative – free goodness. The better quality flour you use, the better the quality your bread will be.

I use white bakers flour, organic white spelt and organic wholemeal flour in a 2:1:1 ratio.

You can use just white flour, if that’s what you have at home.

I tweaked my auntie’s recipe a little.

Here is my latest version.

INGREDIENTS:

This recipe yields two loafs.

500 g strong bread flour

250 g white spelt flour

250 g wholemeal flour

3 tsp salt

1-2 tsp caraway seeds, whole or crushed

3 Tbsp vinegar ( I use organic cider vinegar, but white is fine)

3 Tbsp olive oil

200 g cooked potato, grated (3 small or 2 bigger potatoes will do, cook them in their skins, peel and grate finely)

200 ml tepid water

YEAST STARTER

1 Tbsp dry active yeast (my Tbsp is 20 ml, that’s 5 ml bigger than a standard US Tbsp)

3 tsp granulated white sugar

300 ml tepid water

METHOD

Mix the starter ingredients and let them ferment for about half an hour – until bubbly.

Put all remaining ingredients (except the 200 ml water) in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl if you don’t own a mixer.

I use my stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, makes the kneading so much easier. If you knead by hand, that’s a bonus exercise for you.

With the mixer on minimum speed start adding your fermented starter. Also add bit by bit the 200 ml of water.

Dough ball will start forming. Let the mixer knead the dough for about 5 minutes on minimum. It’s a lot of flour, we don’t want to overheat your machine.

Dough should be elastic, smooth and not too wet. Keep adding water if the dough feels too dry. The ball should pick up all the flower off the sides of the bowl. If the dough feels too wet and sticky, add more flour.

Let the dough rise in a covered bowl for an hour or until the dough doubles in size.

1st rising

1st rising

after 1 hour, dough has more than doubled in size

after 1 hour, dough has more than doubled in size

Punch the air out of the dough, roll and knead for a minute, return it to the bowl, cover and let rise again for another hour or until the dough doubles in size.

Meanwhile prepare the tins for baking. Β I butter mine and dust them with some corn meal (flour).

Punch the dough again and divide in two equal parts. Shape the dough according to your tin. I use rectangular high bread tin.

3rd rising in the tins, I’m using meat loaf tins

Let the bread rise one last time.

Meanwhile preheat your oven to maximum, mine gets up to 250C.

Make a couple of slits (with a thin sharp knife) in the top of your bread and brush it lightly with some milk, sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake in the middle of your oven for 15 minutes then reduce to 150C for 45 minutes.

When finished baking remove the bread from the tins and cool on a wire rack.

I slice mine and usually end up with 12 -15 slices per loaf.

This bread has no preservatives so it won’t last a week like the supermarket kind, but I promise you it tastes much better.

I usually put mine in a zip-lock back and freeze.

We toast it straight from the freezer.

marketa

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Election Day

Today is Election Day here in Australia.

Being the good Aussie I am, I got to the polling booth early, yesterday afternoon. Missed out on the sausage sizzle today. Arrgh! If only I knew… Must remember for next time.

Archie came with me and received plenty of attention from all the volunteers shoving all the propaganda in your face.

There was a young girl next to me in the booth yesterday. She asked me in a shaky voice if she’s allowed to phone her mum to help her with filling of the ballot paper. Poor thing, didn’t have an idea. I asked her who she wants to vote for, her answer “for the Sex party” didn’t surprise me. I just laughed to myself and remembered how confused I was when I at barely 18 had to vote for the first time, all by myself. I think I went for the Greens back then.

Well, that’s how it is. Will see what the future brings and which party will get the leadership for the next 3 years.

Not that I’m into politics or anything.

I just went so I don’t get fined. Hehe.

Today is also the first day of fermentation of my sourdough starter. I purchased a dehydrated starter pack on eBay. I tried to grow my own sourdough bacteria a while ago but failed miserably.

This time it’s a proper, functioning starter, I hope. First promising bubble appeared on the surface today, yay.

I’m sure I’ll be baking my own sourdough bread in no time! Fingers crossed.

We’ve been baking our own bread for at least three months now. None of the preservative-laden commercial bread for us anymore.

I’ll post the recipe for my home-made bread very soon. It’s so easy. All you need is time. And flour πŸ˜‰

Day 1, first bubble

Day 1, first bubble

TV is full of the Election stuff tonight. Boring.

Weather turned cold and rainy again. I was so stoked to wear t-shirt on our walks with Archie last week. Spring is my favourite season I think.

Time for a glass of wine and some of my comfort food red pasta dish.

Good night

xx