Making your own bread is enormously satisfying (not least because each loaf is worth about a gazillion Brownie points from the missus). People think that bread-making is difficult or time-consuming. It isn't. The time thing is basically a couple of short periods of activity interspersed by periods of waiting.
- 225g strong white bread flour
- 50g burghul (crushed wheat) soaked in water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 sachet easy-action yeast
- 150 ml warm water
- a small heap of semolina
Mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Add the oil, and stir the mixture until the oil is evenly distributed. Add the wet burghul (I tried it once without soaking the burghul and it was too damn crunchy: soaking it gives the bread an extra bit of moisture) and the hot water, and stir until the dough stops sticking to the bowl.
Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until it acquires a sort of glossy elasticity - this only happens after at least five minutes of kneading. Now you need to cover it loosely - a tagine is perfect for this - and leave it somewhere warm (like Spain or Dubai) to rise. It's important that the dough is kept out of draughts.
After an hour or so, the dough should have doubled in size. Now you need to tip it out onto your floured work surface, and knead it again for another five minutes - this is called 'knocking it back'. I like a crunchy crust to my bread, and so I roll the dough in semolina to get it coated all over. Place the dough into a lightly-oiled loaf tin, and squish it down a bit so that the top is flat and the dough reaches into the corners.
Now cover the dough again and place it in your warm place to rise once more. Pre-heat your oven to 230° C, and when the dough has doubled in size, pop it in and bake for about 25 minutes. Take it out of the oven and tip it out of the tin. Turn the loaf over and return to the oven for another fifteen minutes. When the time is up, remove the loaf and tap it with your finger to test whether it is cooked. It should sound hollow. If it doesn't, give it a few more minutes.
Leave to cool on a wire rack (it will go soggy if you just dump it on a plate), and eat at your leisure. Yumm!
Guest Fat Expat Keith 'Keefieboy' Williamson is a blogger, web designer, bon viveur, Hispanophile and avid baker...