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Monday 4 July 2011

7 Days of Baking: Day 3 - Wright's Mixed Grain Bread

I think I've done enough of the sweet stuff for now... Onto the savoury, and the first of the three Wright's bread mixes I picked up at the Real Food show all that time ago.

Technically, these are probably simpler than the cake mixes, because you need only add water, rather than water and oil, but breadmaking is a more involved process. It's not just a case of mix it up and slap it in the oven - one must put personal, physical effort into kneading and, if one so desires, shaping the bread prior to baking. Thankfully, as with all their products, full instructions are clearly printed on the side of the pack, so it's easy to follow the process step-by-step.

  • Wrights Mixed Grain Bread Mix
  • Water
  • Butter or Oil (for greasing the baking tin/tray)
  • Flour (only for the kneading part!)
Preparation Time: 1 hour 30 minutes (1 hour 15 if baking rolls rather than a loaf)

Tools Required:
  • Medium/Large Bowl
  • Sturdy Mixing Impliment (a whisk is not appropriate for dough!)
  • Baking Tin (2lb loaf size) or Baking Tray (enough to accommodate 10 rolls)
  • Jug
  • An Area of Clear, Flat Kitchen Surface (for the kneading)
  • Cling Film or Cloth
  • Cooling Rack
The Process:
Wright's really have made this as easy as possible. If you ever feel the need to impress someone with your kitchen skills, baking your own bread is a great start... and it doesn't even matter that it's a ready-made mixture, because the effort and timing involved in the preparation and baking is what really counts. To begin, pour the Wright's mixture into your bowl, and add 290ml of lukewarm water. I used water straight from my hot tap (before it got really hot, obviously!), but you may prefer to boil a kettle and let it cool. Mix together until you have a ball of dough. Wright's estimate 5 minutes, but mine seemed quite stubborn... though I'm willing to put that down to the fact that I was mixing with a large spoon. I might almost concede that a food mixer is worth having for these...

Dust your worksurface with flour (plain rather than self-raising would be preferable, just in case!), and leave the dough on that surface to rest for five minutes. Knead and stretch the dough for two minutes, then mold into a ball and leave it alone for another five minutes.

Here's where you can start to have fun: If you're feeling clever and have a good-sized baking tray (greased), you can shape the dough, you can knot it, or you can divide it into 10 pieced for rolls. If not, just dump it into a greased 2lb loaf tin. Either way, cover it all with either cling film or a damp cloth, and leave it in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes. During this time, the dough should pretty much double in size! This is science in action, people!

Preheat your oven to 230C (210C if you're fan-assisted) and bake for 15-30 minutes, depending on what you're baking (lower end for rolls, higher end for loaves), or keep checking in on it and stop when it's looking golden brown. Wright's also note that the base should sound hollow when it's baked... but you're not going to know that until you take it out of the oven so, if in doubt, probably leave it an extra minute or two.

Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for a while... or not, because there's nothing quite like eating freshly-baked bread straight from the oven, even more so when it's your oven!

The Results:
In a word, "WOW".

You want more? Tsk.

OK, I'm not madly keen on brown bread - it tends to be a bit on the dry side, and its own flavour can sometimes interfere with whatever fillins I choose to add. Whether it was the fact that I baked this myself, or just that it's the first time I've eaten bread that was literally 'fresh from the oven', but this bread was good and moist. The interior was even steaming when I cut into it for the first time! It does take a while to settle down and become properly crusty (at which point it becomes far easier to cut), but then it lasts well for a good few days.

Not that it'll last a few days because, once it's baked, you'll just be looking for excuses to eat it.

This is a truly excellent product - easy to make, and the finished bread just seems so much better than the sort of preservative-infused loaf you tend to find in the shops. Sure, it's only a small loaf, but it's good stuff... baking your own bread gives a truly personal touch to your sandwiches.

1 comment:

  1. Great lightweight hand mixer for the price! Feels sturdy and the motor feels powerful. In fact, it has three speeds and the low speed feels much faster than my last hand mixer. Love that the blender sticks attach to the side of the blender body, making it much neater for storage. And will save time digging through drawers looking for the attachments next time!