I decided that this year I would try and stop using supermarkets. Unfortunately my local area and markets make this a little bit impossible, so the plan has been scaled down a bit to fruit and veg. Incorporated in this ambition is to start making my own bread.
Now I know what you are all thinking and yes I do have a bread maker. Had it years. Used it sporadically. And it lives in the back of a cupboard where it is very comfortable and happy there.
This time I am going old school.
Now, I know bread can be very difficult, otherwise everyone would be doing it, but powering through I settled for Sourdough as it doesn't include yeast and through experience it has always been delicious.
Unfortunately this requires a bit of time and effort to set up as it needs what is called a 'starter'. This took hardly any effort but does consist of a short task everyday for 5 days.....do not be afraid. It is easy and worth it.
Day 1 5 tbsp- fresh, live, full-fat, vegan plain yoghurt 175ml- plant milk Day 2 120g- strong white flour Day 4 180g- strong white flour 100ml- water
3 tbsp- plant milk Day 5 150g- strong white flour 150ml- water
Method Day 1- heat the milk in a saucepan over a gentle heat. Place the yoghurt into a bowl and stir in the warmed milk. Cover and leave in a warm place for 12-24 hours until thickened.
Day 2- stir the flour into the yoghurt. Cover and leave at room temperature for two days. The mixture should be full of bubbles and smell sour. Day 4- add the flour to the starter with the water and the milk. Cover and leave at warm room temperature for 12-24 hours. Day 5- the starter should be full of little bubbles. Remove half of the starter and discard (I know it sounds drastic and disheartening but trust me). Add the flour and the water to the remaining starter and mix thoroughly. Cover and leave at warm room temperature for 24 hours.
Day 6- the starter should be ready to use. You can keep the starter at room temperature, but you will need to feed it daily with equal parts of the starter, water and flour and mix thoroughly. You may have to throw away some of the starter so that you do not end up with too much. Keep covered and use as needed. If like me you are only baking bread a couple of days a week then the starter can be covered in the fridge, but do feed it once every five days or so by mixing equal parts of starter, flour and water.
You can freeze some of your starter too, as a back-up in case you need to start again.
The Beautiful Bread
Now here, in my opinion, you can either use Strong White Flour or Strong Wholemeal Flour. I have tried both. Both are equally as delicious. My choice usually depends on how healthy I want to be but since I am trying to set a good example for the kids I tend to go for Wholemeal.
500g- Strong Wholemeal Bread Flour or unbleached strong white bread flour
300g- sourdough starter
oil- for greasing
Mix the flour, sourdough starter and water together in a bowl. Turn out on to a clean kitchen surface and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is stretchy.
Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let it prove for 2½-3 hours.
Turn out the dough onto a clean kitchen surface and knock back. Now you can either leave the dough as one for a loaf tin or separate into two equal portions and shape into a round. Make sure to flour generously, and place in a bowl, lined with a heavily-floured tea towel - without the floured tea towel, your loaf may stick to the bowl and you won't be able to turn it out. Leave to prove for a further 2½ hours.
Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/Gas 8. Put some cold water into a baking tin and place in the bottom of the oven to create steam. Turn the loaves out onto a baking tray. Using a thin sharp knife score two or three times on the top of the loaf and place in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a good crust has formed and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the base.
Now I did plan on adding a lot more pictures for you all but myself and my partner find it very hard to resist the warm slice with a spread of vegan butter, so this was the only picture managed to take of the finished product.