The secret to mastering any new kitchen skill is to start with a basic recipe and perfect it before moving onto something a little more complex. Nowhere is that more important than in baking, and specifically for this post, flavoured breads.
This week Lauren at the Flour Station wrote a great post sharing her thoughts about the best breads for beginner bakers. She includes non-yeasted breads like flatbread, soda bread and cornbread, before moving onto suggesting a basic loaf recipe. I’ve also enjoyed reading how Mardi, who writes at Eat Live Travel Write, led her class of Les Petit Chefs (little chefs) through making Jamie’s easy flatbreads with a selection of dips, following on from my own post on kneading with kids a couple of weeks ago.
When you are ready to move onto to making bread using yeast, I’d recommend you read Emma Gardner’s post here on using yeast; it demystified quite a lot for me! Instant yeast can be mixed straight into dry ingredients, but tends not to like warmer liquids – you need to make sure you only ever add tepid water. Dried yeast needs activating, in most cases by adding a warm liquid. Fresh yeast is a little harder to find outside of bakeries and online shops, but it can be crumbled straight your wet ingredients, or into your dough.
Once you’ve conquered a basic bread recipe, it’s time to get a little creative, and the best way to do this is to learn how to add flavours to your bread. A great recipe to start with is this one for banana and honey bread, which makes around ten bread rolls and is based upon Jamie’s basic bread recipe. Essentially, you purée six bananas and add them to warm water, making a banana-flavoured liquid. You then use that liquid in place of plain water in the basic bread recipe, adding runny honey and chopped almonds for extra flavour and texture.
Another simple way to jazz up a basic recipe is to practise making an Italian bread such as a focaccia, before adding your choice of toppings just before baking. Jamie’s three-flavour focaccia recipe can be quickly whizzed up in a food processor, before kneading for around five minutes and leaving it to rest and rise. The suggested toppings include sticky balsamic onions, cherry tomatoes and basil, and three-cheese and rosemary – though feel free to experiment with toppings of your choice. Let me know your favourites!