Making Bread


OK, I've just made the nicest bread I've ever made, and I've no real idea why it's so nice. However, here's the recipe, so you can try it for yourself, while I refine it some more.

  • Take some warm water (about 40 degrees C) in a small bowl. About a cup full of water is right.
  • Add about one or two teaspoons of dried yeast and three teaspoons of white sugar. Put them in the water and stir it. The yeast is Ideal brand dried yeast.
  • Go to Sham Shui Po Computer Centre and look for Bluetooth network components. Fail to find anything.
  • Go to Tsim Sha Tsui and look for ludicrously cheap lenses for a Pentax K-Mount. Completely fail to find any, but nearly get involved in a TV drama which was being filmed. Leave when you realise that they're not interested in having a token Gwailo hanging around.
  • Get home approximately three hours after starting the mix and look at it and sneer. Have a shower. Add some warm water to the mix and put it in a bigger bowl.
  • Add a cup or so of flour and mix well. Put about one teaspoon of salt in and mix well. Put a little peanut oil in there as well. (I normally use olive oil, but the peanut oil, which my wife uses for frying was closer. By about two inches. And I was curious about what effect it would have.)
  • Add in enough flour until you have a doughy mixture which comes away from the sides.
  • Start kneading the mixture. I knead it in the bowl by knuckling it down until it's flat, turning it over and folding the floured sides together. Repeat, adding more flour if it feels sticky. Stop when it doesn't want to stick together anymore.
  • Make a lump of the dough in the bowl and leave to rise. Put the bowl on top of a stereo system which is playing VCDs in Cantonese and English at the same time at ear-shattering volume for the half dozen kids who have appeared in the flat.
  • Drink some beer.
  • Remember the bread about an hour later. Notice that it hasn't risen very much. Beat it up. Repeat the kneading process for a bit until the prisoner confesses or the bread looks sorry for not rising.
  • Drink more beer.
  • Attempt to get a Toshiba laptop to recognise the Bluetooth Dongle which is plugged into the 32bit Cardbus Card which it also isn't recognising. Consider taking a baseball bat to makers of laptops who use the weirdest hardware they can find and then vary it from model to model.
  • Have dinner.
  • Remember the bread again about an hour after dinner. It's now risen a bit more respectably, so knock it down and fold it over and leave it to rise for what should be the second proper rising.
  • Open some wine and drink that, as all the Chinese people (my wife and her MahJong buddies) are quaffing the beer while playing MahJong. My fault for buying gallons of TsingTao.
  • Return to work on the laptop. Download the toshutils package from when you realise that the fan isn't working and the thing is about to set your table on fire.
  • About 10:30pm, remember the bread again with a guilty start and, noting that it's now risen like a champion, knock it down. Ask yourself why you did that, as it'll probably take hours to rise up again anyway. Form it into a rough cylinder approximately the width of your oven and put it on a a greased over tray. Use tinfoil to make a nice hat to keep the government spyrays out of your head. Leave to rise for about 30 minutes and heat the oven to as hot as it'll go. Occasionally spray some water in there from a plant mister. (Bread needs steam to get a nice crust.)
  • About 11:00pm, put the dough in the oven for thirty minutes, adding some water to the tray to get a hot steam going. Set the temperature to 180 deg. C so the oven cools down to that while the initial cooking is taking place. This is, in my experience, absolutely critical to getting a thin, crispy crust while not overcooking the centre. For the first few minutes, spray some water from the plant mister into the over. Aim for the walls of the oven: the goal is to have a hot mist in the over, not make the bread soggy. Once the bread is past the 'spring up' stage, no more water. (The dough will sag a little at first,then spring up with heat until it's at maximum spring. After that it browns and crisps on the outside.)
  • Ignore complaints about the funny smell coming from the kitchen. Pretend you don't understand comments from MahJong buddies' kids about why a man is cooking. Mentally applaud number one daughter who defends Daddy's bread making powers. "Roxanne eat daddy-bread later. Daddy have to cook first."
  • Hear oven go ding after about 30 minutes, check that bread sounds hollow when tapped on top. Note that bread has risen up surprisingly well and has browned all over. Remove from oven and put on plate to cool. Completely fail to resist cutting the end off while still hot, slathering with butter and consuming in about two milliseconds. Have primitive part of brain rejoice that: "Ug make bread, feed family. Ug good."

Check out my How To Make Bread Page for more in my continuing quest to make the perfect bread. I'm getting strangely tempted by having a sourdough starter...

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This page contains a single entry by dave published on April 20, 2003 2:55 AM.

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