Thursday, 14 October 2010


Making bread is one of the most satisfying ways I can think of to relax.  It took me a while to perfect it but I'm glad I persevered.  I've tried many different ways of making dough: the magimix, bowl mixers, hand whisks with dough hook etc but the truth is the best dough is produced by hand.  You can feel when it's ready, you get a sense of whether or not the dough is too tight or too dry and you can amend accordingly. You have to get the oven hot in advance which makes your kitchen cozy and warm and the entire procedure is calming and relaxing.

I can highly recommend Dough by Richard Bertinet. It is a clear guide to bread-making and includes pictures and a DVD so you can see how he forms the shapes.  The white dough recipe he uses couldn't be simpler and it's almost impossible to mess up.

 Richard Bertinet's White Dough
  • 10g fresh yeast
  • 500g strong flour
  • 10g salt
  • 350g water (or 350ml but weighing is more accurate)
  1. Preheat the oven to 250C.
  2. Use finger tips to rub yeast into flour in a large bowl. The same method as making crumble.
  3. Add the salt and mix evenly.  Never add the salt at same time as the yeast as direct contact will kill the yeast.
  4. Add the water and mix in the bowl with your hand
  5. Once dough has come together transfer to work surface.
  6. At this stage do not be concerned if dough seems very wet.  The more you work it, the more the air will firm the dough up.  Adding too much flour at this stage will completely alter the consistency of the dough. By all means add a little flour to surface but not to the dough.
  7. Work the dough by pulling front part of dough up and away from mass and then fold back on itself trapping air inside.  Repeating this over and over again will dry the dough and firm it up.
  8. Keep working the dough until it feels smooth and silky in your hands. It should take approximately 5 minutes.
  9. At this stage place the dough back into the bowl for the resting stage.  Cover with a damp cloth and leave in warm (but not too dry) place.  I place mine next to the oven and if the dough looks like it is drying out I just spray water on the cloth covering it. Rest for 1 hour until the dough has doubled in size.
  10. Take the rested dough out of bowl and place on work surface.  Gently flatten it and fold the edges of the dough back into the centre.  Turn and repeat the process a few times to knock it back. 
At this stage I am going to refer to the techniques I learnt at college to shape the dough.  The above information may seem like a lot of processes but I  wanted to make it easy to follow.  Bread is just 5 techniques and you can think of it as knead, rest, knock back, form and prove. Once you have the above method it's easy. 
  1. Before shaping divide the dough into 16 pieces by halving and then halving each mound in turn until you have 16
  2. Lightly grease an oven tray.  
  3. Whisk one egg in a small bowl and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  The salt will break down the protein in the egg so when you glaze the finished rolls it will be easier to apply and less streaky.
  4. Now form the dough in any way you like, there are some ideas listed below
  5. Glaze the rolls with the egg at this stage before it has risen again, otherwise it will squash and damage as the brush touches it.
  6. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, cracked pepper, poppy seeds etc
  7. Cover again with cloth and leave to prove and rise for 30 mins
  8. Once risen cook in hot oven for 10 mins.  The rolls should be golden and not too dark and if you turn them in your hand and tap the bottom should sound hollow.
  9. Turn out on cooling rack and get your butter ready
Plain bread buns
  • Form a ball of dough in your cupped hands and they place the dough on the surface and roll it around in a circle with your 'clawed' hand on top of it.  
  • As you move the dough round in a circle it will take on a perfect sphere and smooth all the joins and imperfections out.  Remember and imperfection in the raw dough will translate to the baked version
  • Carefully place rolls onto oven tray.
    • Form the perfect sphere as before.  
    • Roll the sphere with the palm of your hand in order to form a rope.  
    • Once rope of dough is approx 15-20com long fold in half and twist four times
    • Curl each end towards each other and tuck under the base of the bun on oven tray
      • Form the perfect sphere as before.  
      • Roll the sphere with the palm of your hand in order to form a rope
      • Tie loose knot in dough being careful not to squash the air out.
      • Place carefully onto oven tray.

      Next time I make these I will take some photos of the shaping methods to make those instructions easier to follow.

      1 comment:

      1. Jane, I may have to take a look for Dough cookbook on amazon, I'm starting my adventure in bread making, well here go's ... i want to master sour dough bread and many other types.. will hav to keep the vibe up now that i've started!! :) vick