This week I have been baking bread. I love the process of getting the dough ready and it always fascinates me how simple ingredients come together. A few years ago I did a bread making course and now I very rarely buy bread.
There are several health benefits of making your own bread as you can omit a lot of emulsifiers, chemicals, stabilisers as well as salt and sugar which are often added in the store bought loaves. These chemicals are added to improve the taste and the shelf life of the bread however they can have harmful effects on our body. The emulsifiers can affect the gut bacteria and the lining of the intestines, often resulting in symptoms like bloating, wind or constipation, to name a few. Other chemicals highlighted as ‘E’ numbers can be hormone disrupting, can make asthma symptoms worse and some have shown to be linked to hyperactivity in children. You may find palm oil as a stabiliser not only in bread but several other baked goods. This is rich in saturated fat and may increase certain heart disease risk factors. The hidden salt in store bought bread adds to the daily allowance of salt which often we are not even aware of. Sugar and the refined carbohydrates cause weight gain, insulin resistance and increase hunger.
Using wholegrain flour like rye, wholemeal wheat, spelt or buckwheat can add many nutrients as well as fibre to the day to day meals. Adding complex carbohydrate in this form is helpful in keeping the gut bacteria healthy too.
The flavour of homemade warm bread is just too good to trade, not forgetting the aroma in the house.
My simple recipe of wholemeal bread
- 500gm wholemeal flour (I Doves organic wholemeal flour)
- One teaspoon of salt
- One teaspoon of yeast (I use Doves instant yeast)
- 350mls of water
Mix all the ingredients well into a dough and leave for an hour to autolyse. This process helps the yeast work better and the bread turns out to be nice and soft. After an hour work the dough for about five ten minutes till it looks nice and smooth. Form a ball and leave it covered for another hour to rise. Following this take out the dough and then shape it into a ball. Now leave the dough for the final prove for an hour and bake in a hot oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 30-40 minutes.
Once the baking process is done the loaf should be left to cool to actually complete the full cooking process however in our house it is very rare for this to happen, as the bread is eaten as soon as it is cool enough to handle.
You can add seeds or nuts to this recipe or even some sautéed onions with herbs to enhance the taste.
The other thing I love more than anything else about baking bread is sharing with my family and friends. A homemade loaf can be a nice gift for a special occasion or just as a treat for a lazy weekend.