Move over sourdough! Bread making during lockdown

Bread loaf

Easy bread recipes?

It’s the home baking craze out there: we’re all stuck at home and – provided you’ve managed to source any flours or yeast – baking has become incredibly popular and therapeuthic.

I have made Neapolitan brioche, pizza, biscuits, banana bread (of course), tahini cookies and of course, bread, which my other half eats regularly. To avoid unnecessary trips to the shops, I started baking it very often. I am not alone; many – the experts – are showing off their sourdough skills: the crumb, the colours, the bubbling and that scoring art! Time for me to join the bandwagon.

bread dough being ready to fold

Cleo, come out to play

My sourdough starter came out of hybernation as Italy went into lockdown. By the time the UK was in lockdown too, two weeks later, #Cleo the friendship bread should have been bubbling and ready to kick off. Except it wasn’t. For the first time in many years, my faithful mother yeast failed to bubble up, maybe put off by the competition.

No matter how I fed it (manitoba , sugar, honey, strong flour, weak flour, wholeweat, rye)… it’s still very much sleeping although it smells wonderfullyu ripe.

Bread, cut
Cleo, not very risen

So I started making ‘regular’ bread, using yeast of which I had a good amount in the cupboard. I even found some 2014 dry yeast which of course, was no longer useful and I had to throw it away feeling absoltely gutted.

I did manage to order a 500gr fresh yeast block from Italian grocery Zaino and froze it in batches of 20gr, so I am truly sorted for a while now.

I have tried my hands at a few recipes. Below the most successful.

Crusty white loaf – Weekend Bakery

My go-to site for bread recipes is Weekend Bakery, a dutch website which I find the most helpful, well laid out recipe site for bread. I have made – in better times – their sourdough breads many times with great success. It was only natural I would follow their non sourdough recipes too.

Bread before baking
Baking the while loaf in my Netherton Foundry pan

I have made a few but the Crusty White Loaf is my favourite, as it can be made pretty quickly and you can start in themorning and have a fabulous, well risen loaf by lunchtime. I usually halve the quantities so we don’t waste too much bread, and manage to finish off the loaf by the next day. I use my cast iron pan by Netherton Foundry and works really well.

Cooked bread

Pane comodo (no knead comfy bread) by Benedetta

I had earmarked this recipe by italian food blogger Fatto in casa da Benedetta already and then I saw a friend I follow on IG posting about it so decided to try it. I think this is now my favourite home bread and I personally think it’s almost better than sourdough. I make this at least once a week and can’t get enough of it.

‘Comodo’ surely isn’t. No knead, sure because you don’t need a mixer and can just mix the ingredients with a fork in a bowl but it does need a LOT of attention and can take up to 24h to make it. Yet I am not complaining, because the results are fantastic.

Pane cooked in casserole dish
The bread is baked in a pre-heated casserole pan

I just added an extra 1/2 tsp salt to the original recipe and I am now experimenting using whey insted of water as I am also making yogurt once a week and hate the idea of discarding the by-product.

I can’t recommend this recipe more!

Focaccia leggera – Adele Ursitti

Browsing on Instagram, through fellow blogger and super cook Meliz Cook I came across another italian mum who makes some delicious, traditional food. One day she posted some snaps of a focaccia which seemed relatively easy to make and indeed, it was! very moist, crunchy outside and soft inside, it was perfect for a sandwich lunch which made me feel home.

Focaccia lunch
Fresh focaccia, pecorino di Moliterno, ham from Basilicata, fresh tomatoes

Since then we’ve become ‘virtual’ friend and I am looking forward to making more of her recipes. Here is Adele Ursitti‘s Focaccia, which I also halved:

  • 250gr strong white flour
  • 250ml warm milk
  • 25ml olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 8g fresh yeast
  • Sesame seed for the top

Mix all the wet ingredients in a bowl and add yeast to dissolve. Slowly add flour, sugar and salt and keep stirring until smooth. Cover a square or rectangular tray with baking parchment, pour the mix in (it will be very soft) spreading it evenly. Seal with clingfilm and let it rise until about double in size (2-3hr depending on room temperature). When ready, finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds and bake in a pre-heat oven at 180c for approx 30mins.

Sandwhich tin loaf – the Great British Bake off cookbook

The show that turned us into home bakers, I have had the book since the first edition of the Great British Bake off and it’s one of the most used cookbooks I have. Loads of brea recipes in it, I think the tin loaf is a good one, easy and quick and a pleasant bread which pleases the boys for sure.

  • 340gr white bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3.5gr easy bake dry yeast (10gr fresh)
  • 425ml lukewarm water

Combine all ingredients in a mixer’s bowl and let it ‘knead’ for about 10minutes until smooth. Cover with a shower cap (why use and waste cling film?) and let it rest at room temperature for about two hours, until doubled in size. Punch lightly, shape into roll folding the sides on the underneath and place into a tin. Lightly oil the surface, cover with the shower cap again and let it rest for anotehr hour. Bake at 230c for 15m, then turn the oven down to 200c and let it bake for another 20m until golden on the top and hollow sounding.

Pizza in a tray – in cucina ci pensa Simo

Another italian blogger for my pizza recipe of choice. I started researching Bonci method, Gabriele Bonci being one of the most famous pizza makers in Italy, but I got way too confused between recipes, posts, methods, yeasts and so forth. I opted to make a 24h proving recipe which actually was pretty good, soft, thick and veru digestible as well as full of flavours.

pizza

Not the neapolitan original but a very good version between a Chicago deep pan and a focaccia, it made for a delicious family lunch. The recipe is here.

Quick Panini – The Clever Meal

My lovely friend Katia has a beautiful blog with plenty of healthy and easy recipes. A quick panini recipe caught my bread making eye and I decided to try it. I failed to take photos, sadly!

Another winner, for sure! The recipe is on her website.

Good luck with your baking!

Bread in banneton

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