Bake off – Rounds one and two

Round 1 bread, ready for the oven

Nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition, especially when it comes to baking. This bake off is between me, and…er, me and is being judged by Paul Hollywood who’s manifested himself as a book from 2004, same beard, same hair, different size tummy… Mary Berry, however, is nowhere to be seen…

I’ve wanted to make bread for ages and I’m determined to get good at it. Now I’ve got no excuses as Jo’s Mum and Dad have bought me 100 great breads by Mr Hollywood, two bags of flour and some yeast. The recipe I’m using sounds simple enough:

  • 500 g strong white bread flour
  • tbsp of salt
  • 300 ml of water
  • 30 g fresh yeast.
  • That, is it.

However, I have instant yeast but a quick check on the packet suggests 1.5 tsp should be adequate. How hard can it be?!?! Harder than I imagined actually…

Round 1

All the ingredients are mixed together in a bowl then kneaded for 5 mins, left to rise for an hour rolled flat to 2 ins and then left to rise again. It’s at this point I notice something’s not quite right. It hasn’t risen much. I make 5 incisions in the top, shove it in the oven (a bread novice error I’ve since learned (the ‘shoving’ bit not the ‘oven’ bit!!)) and then bake and hope for the best… 30 mins later what comes out looks like bread, smells a bit like bread but feels, well, heavier than I remember bread feeling! I slice it open to reveal something a little bit too dense… it’s serviceable but it’s going in the freezer as back-up bread or even breadcrumbs (or perhaps for the ducks). Paul, still in book form, glares at me. I wish he’d tell me where I’ve gone wrong. Mary Berry is still absent…

Round 1 loaf, this would not win the technical bake off...

Round 2

I’ve decided to stick with the recipe (although I use the flour bought for me at Christmas this time) as I think it’s possibly my heavy handedness and laziness that have caused the problem. I’m also being assisted by my 21 month old daughter. This time, using different flour the mixture is way too wet, so I keep adding flour, my daughter keeps taking it away (perhaps Paul Hollywood is using her as a vessel to communicate with me). I’m not sure if this is correct but it feels like the right thing to do. I knead for 15 mins. The Paul Hollywood communication vessel that was once my daughter kneads for 15 seconds, scrapes up the dough and throws it at the wall in disgust. My shoulders ache but I find it very satisfying. This time the rise is better (I also gently place it next to a radiator) but not amazing. I also gently place it in the oven. 30 mins later it smells slightly different to round two, more bread like. Good sign. The results are an improvement. It really is pretty tasty, I think this one will stay out of the freezer! Paul, now back in book form, gives me a 6 out of ten face then goes back to making a harvest loaf. Mary Berry, I think, has had enough of bake offs…

Round 2 loaf, fairly successful and a picture of what it should have looked like
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2 thoughts on “Bake off – Rounds one and two

  1. Enjoyed the bread-making story. We thought Elsa would be a good helper, as did Paul Hollywood, obviously. This week’s acronym: Farl = Finished a real loaf.

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