Since coming to Australia I have had enormous difficulty with home-made bread. The specialty bread mixes available here are not a patch on those we could get in New Zealand. Even the so-called high-grade flours give a very disappointing cakey crumb. The bread I made did not stay fresh for much longer than the first few hours and was not even very good for toast, unless you wanted to make crunchy croutons.
So I decided to try an experiment. I bought a new brand of ‘bread mix’ and made a loaf of bread. Disappointing, as I had rather expected. So I dried it in the oven and turned it into breadcrumbs in the food processor. This was my control experiment.
I then started again, except this time I add a tablespoon of gluten per cup of flour. I also add an eighth of a teaspoon of xanthan gum. I am not sure, however, if this contributed to the difference in the product. I shall have to experiment further.
Out of the oven came bread that was decidedly edible. Soft and white with a crust like a French loaf. Two days later, though it is admittedly not staying as fresh as commercial soft bread does with all its additives, it is excellent for toast. Suits me. Now we are getting somewhere. Next we shall try making whole grain bread. My favourite commercial Soy and Linseed bread is $8 a loaf at the store, when it is available. I am going to try making my own. If I can get the flour.
I have a feeling I need no longer travel a day’s journey for high-grade flour for white bread. With my own gluten on hand I can stick with the local Black and Gold brand plain flour.
For crusty white bread:
- 500 g (3 cups) “bread flour” (read “flour”)
- 3 Tbsp. gluten
- 1/8 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 10 g dried yeast
- 1 ½ cups lukewarm water (which in my home at this time of year is just water straight from the cold tap and left to stand for a while to give it a chance to cool down)
- Mix all the ingredients in the Kenwood Chef with a dough hook and knead for 8-10 minutes.
- Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to stand in a warm place until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 200oC
- Uncover and knead again for a bit
- Divide into four balls and place two balls each in two oiled loaf tins.
- Cover with oiled clingfilm and stand in a warm place until the dough has risen above the loaf tins
- Bake at 200oC for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when knocked