This bread making lark can only end in tears

I haven’t made bread by hand since I left school, *mumble, mumble* years ago. I seem to remember really hating the kneading part of the process and I think I made a couple of brick like loaves before I gave up on the whole idea, and bought a bread maker.

The thing is that recently, I have fallen in love with the Hairy Bikers and have been watching their latest series on BBC2, Bakeaction, avidly. They’re so lovely and friendly and, *sigh*. I think they remind me a bit of my Dad’s friends when I was growing up. I find them very comforting.

On the german leg of their trip these two lovelies made some potato bread, and whether it was the carby imaginings of a fed up dieter, or whether it was just the fact that loaf looked chewy and tasty and keeps for a couple of days, I was set on a course of mixing, kneading, proving, shaping, proving, baking and finally gorging.

To start, I boiled some potatoes and once they were soft, I drained them, reserving some of the starchy water, and mashed them up with some vegetable oil.

Once the potato water had cooled down to a hand hot temperature, I added the dried yeast and sugar and left it in a warm place until it frothed.

It's like magic!

I added the warm, bubbling yeast to the warm oily mash (*drool* God, I really need to sort myself out a love life at some point in the future – this level of sensuality should not be confined to fucking FOOD INGREDIENTS) and mixed them well before adding the flour slowly and gently bringing all of the ingredients together with my hands. *cough*

Once I had a ball of dough I started the kneading process, the bit I was dreading the most. I really enjoyed it! Feeling the dough change from a sticky lump of ingredients to a cohesive, elastic, springy ball of dough was really gratifying.

Surprisingly satisfying and check out those veins in my hand. WORK IT!

So once I’d kneaded for 10 minutes I lightly greased a bowl and some cling film (I use an Olive Oil spray to make it a bit easier. Not that it’s hard to grease a bowl and some cling film, but I thought you might appreciate the tip) and left the dough to prove in a warm spot for an hour.

It is an exciting hour and no mistake

Once the dough had doubled in size, I knocked it back – just because I’m hard, like to make sure that the bread doesn’t have great big massive bubbles in it, and then gazed upon the beauty of it.

Gorgeous, bouncy, fluffy dough

I stretched out the dough into a square which was *technical* about a half a thumb deep.

Check out the elasticy gluten in THIS baby. (WTF is happening to me?)

And then folded the two long sides up towards one another, pinched together, and placed on a lightly greased and floured baking tray (I USED THAT OLIVE OIL SPRAY TO GREASE THE TRAY – It’s a tip, you can take it or leave it) to prove for another half an hour – hour, in a warm place. I went for the little sun trap in the corner of the kitchen.

Leave in warm spot to double in size again

Before baking, slash the dough and sprinkle some flour, before shaking some black onion seeds across the top of the loaf.

It's got that wobble, baby.

I had preheated the oven and so shoved my bread in and baked for 35 minutes.

*watches obsessively*

Now, I know you’re not meant to open the oven too often and blah blah, but I turned the loaf once during cooking time. It needed turning or I would have ended up with half the crust being burnt and the other half being aneamic. It worked for me, but I was using this first loaf as an experiment! I was feeling all arrogant brave, and luckily for me, it worked out ok.

This was my first one

This was my second loaf

The difference is entirely down to leaving the loaf to prove for longer on the second prove.

Anyway, after leaving the loaf to cool for a terribly irritating amount of time filled with “can we cut it now mum?” “”what harm could it do, if we cut it now, it won’t hurt”, “It must be time”

I cut the loaf, and buttered it.


To me, as Born Again Baker this whole process is just, well it’s enriching to me in some way. Urgh, I know that sounds ridiculously stupid and wanky and sentimental, but honestly? A bit of flour, a sachet of yeast, sugar, salt and potatoes can make a loaf that has persuaded Tom to have breakfast before school, that’s a pretty amazing loaf of bread.

However, I don’t get on well with bread and should be leaving it alone. I’ve eaten at least half of everything I’ve made thus far.

We’re two loaves down here, I’m scared.

For the recipe – BEWARE!! – Check out the link at the start of this post.

Pray for me…


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Posted on 04/04/2012, in Cooking. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Om nom nom,

    I like potatoes much more than I like bread.

    I’m crap at kneading though. Will it work if I get bored of kneading and give up?

  2. You can’t taste the potato in the bread, it just makes it…lasty. (that’s not a typo)

    You think you’ll get bored of kneading but you’ll actually find yourself kneading for over the time you should – embrace the bread making, cwtch up to the gluten, feel the yeast reacting with the flour…soak up the process and you’ll find yourself kneading the dough and wanting to carry on.

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