For any of my students in my classes, they will know that this year I have become obsessed with baking bread. For any new students, welcome to my obsession!
Since about April of this year, I have baked some bread every weekend once, twice or even three times! As I’m sure you can guess, I end up giving away quite a lot of bread as I can’t eat it all. I’m happy to say that others seem to enjoy my bread too. This makes this hobby even more fun as I can share it with other people.
This month, as a kind of special summer corona edition, I thought I could share one of my recipes with all of you, and if you have a few hours over Obon holiday, I challenge you to make some bread at home. I would love to hear about your experience, and of course I would love to see some pictures too.
First things first, you need an oven. I’m afraid if you don’t have one, this is going to be an impossible challenge.
Secondly, I would really recommend buying a dough scraper. It is not necessary but they are so useful and they make everything so much easier, and less messy. You can find them in one hundred yen stores. Buy the plastic ones!
Here is some of my bread for motivation. You can do it!
Ok here we go! I wish you the best of luck. Just take your time and enjoy it.
The ingredients are very simple, you may be surprised to know that bread doesn’t require many ingredients at all.
320g Room temperature water
7g dry yeast
500g Strong bread flour
15g Olive oil
Making the Dough
In a large mixing bowl weigh your yeast, add the water and mix together until the yeast has dissolved.
Next add the flour, salt and olive oil.
Mix everything with your dough scraper until it comes together into a rough dough, try and get all the flour into one ball, and then turn it out onto a clean table.
‘Knead’ your dough well for 8 minutes without dusting with any flour.
‘Kneading’ is where you roll and fold the dough over itself again and again. This will be very(!) messy in the beginning, but just keep going and I promise it will come together.
Tip! – Use your dough scraper here to bring everything back together and tidy up.
Then, shape it into a ball and place it back into the bowl. Sprinkle the top with a little flour, cover with a clean cloth and rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
Dividing and Pre-shaping
Dust the top of your dough and use your dough scraper to turn it out onto the table. Make sure the dough comes out of the bowl upside down, sticky side up, flour side down.
Use your fingertips lightly to flatten the dough. Fold each piece into a ball by pinching an edge with finger and thumb and folding it over the dough almost to the other side. Keep turning and folding the dough, working your way round until you end up with a bouncy ball of dough.
Turn it over so the floured side is on top, and cup your hands underneath the dough slightly to tighten it up. Dust lightly with flour and rest your dough ball on the table under a cloth for 15 minutes.
While you are waiting, you can prepare your bowl again for the dough to rise in. Put a clean cloth in your bowl and generously dust it with flour.
Remove the cloth from the top of your dough. The dough should have relaxed and spread slightly.
Once again, cup your dough a little to tighten it up.
Tip! – Softly pull the dough towards you, then turn it 90 degrees and pull it towards you again. Repeat this motion and you should see the top get tighter.
When your dough looks nice and tight, pick it up with your scraper and put it upside down into your prepared bowl. Add a little flour and cover the dough with the cloth.
Once again, let your dough rest for about an hour.
There are two options to bake your bread.
Option one (recommended):
Use a dutch oven to bake your bread in.
These big heavy pots are great for creating extra heat and steam which will help your bread rise in the oven. It will be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
For this method, while your bread is rising, put the dutch oven in your oven and heat it up to 230 degrees or as hot as possible.
When the oven is ready, using baking paper, turn your bread out of its bowl onto the paper and carefully place the bread in the dutch oven. It will be hot!
‘Score’ your bread. ‘Score’ means to cut across the top using a very sharp knife or razor blade.
Put the lid on, and put it into the oven for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, take the lid off and bake for another 20-25 minutes at 200 degrees until very brown.
Heat your oven to 220 degrees. Put a baking tray on the bottom of your oven.
Boil some water.
Turn your bread out onto another baking tray, ‘score’ your bread and place into the oven.
Before closing the door, pour some boiling water into the baking tray on the bottom of your oven. This will create some very hot steam which will help your bread get crunchy. Be careful!
Cook for 30-40 minutes, and check your bread to make sure it isn’t burning on top. If it is burning, you can put some foil over the top.
I don’t recommend this method as much because most of our ovens here in Japan are not really hot enough.
Remove the bread from your oven, tap the bottom. It should sound hollow. Leave the bread to cool completely on a wire rack. Around one hour.
Hopefully your finished bread will look something like this.