Recipe: Even Better White Bread

I’ve been playing around a bit with the bread recipe. This bread has the right amount of fluffiness, and a more simple preparation. After all, if this is something that is going to be done on a weekly basis, efficiency is a good thing.

Ingredients preferment
1/4 tsp dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup flour

Preparation preferment — evening before (takes about 5 minutes of actual doing time)
Mix, cover bowl with wet towel, leave out at room temperature for at least 10 hours.
So if you do this at 8pm, you can continue with the rest of the steps at about 8 am the next day.

Ingredients 2 loaves
1 3/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 cup warm water
5 cups of flour — for a more healthy version, replace some cups of all-purpose flour with whole grain.
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
the preferment

Preparation (actual doing time:  30 minutes maybe?)
If necessary, activate the yeast by mixing it with the warm water and a cup of flour.
Mix all ingredients together, and knead. Add a bit of flour while needing to make the dough easier to handle.
Let rise for at least 3 hours. Often I just forget about the dough, and continue when I do remember, and when the dough looks good.
Punch down the dough, roll it up, put it in an oiled bread form, seam down. Let it rise until almost the right height.
I used to make 2 loaves, but in the Netherlands bread is usually a bit more high and wide, so now we have a bigger bread form where I just put all of the dough in. The final texture of the bread is just as nice as with the smaller loaves!
Slash the top of the bread and wet it with a bit of water — At the moment I am experimenting with slashing the top already during the last rising. It seems to look a little bit nicer in the end.
If you like a harder crust, bake for 30 minutes at 230 degrees Celsius. We often go for a softer crust, baking a bit longer, at 190 degrees. When it’s done, get it out of the form and let it dry for a bit. We then slice up the bread and freeze it in, so we can conveniently use this bread for the rest of the week.

Even better white bread -- this picture is of an attempt where I still divided the dough into two loaves.

The verdict
With just a little over half an hour of work, the result is a nice fluffy bread, that lasts us for about a week. We went a long way from the bricks my husband refused to eat, to this. The final goal is to be able to make bread that makes us snort at the bread we would otherwise have bought at the supermarket. We’re not there yet, but getting closer!

About cost-effectiveness
For this bread we use:
€0,893   750 grams eco all-purpose flour (€1,19 per kilo)
€0,126   14 grams bruggeman instant yeast (€4,50 for 500 grams)
€0,085   10 grams sea salt  (€1,70 for 200 grams)
€0,071   15 ml olive oil (€4.75 per litre)
€0,001   450 ml warm water
€1,176   TOTAL

The bread we normally buy costs €1,19. So if we would include wages for the half hour of work, it is definitely not cheaper than store-bought. Though you could make it a lot cheaper by going for cheaper ingredients than these (the flour, the salt, and the oil). But what is nice to remember is that in this case, you do have full control over the ingredients. The bread from the store is not ‘eco’, and probably has some additives. A nice additional benefit is that your house will smell deliciously of freshly baked bread — yumm. And you cannot get your bread any more freshly-baked than this!

About waste
The olive oil comes in a glass bottle (recyclable), and I found a place in the city where you can get refills from large canisters. The water comes from the tap, and the flour in a paper bag (recyclable). The salt in a PE pot, so that should be downcyclable. The yeast is packaged in some kind of mix of plastic and aluminium I think, so that one is problematic. But instead of a plastic bag with each bread you buy, 500 grams of yeast is enough for 35 loaves of bread (large), and the salt lasts for 20. When this salt is gone, I’ll go get 1 kg packaging, so again a nice reduction in waste.

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