'Knead' something to do when you're staying home? Rise to the occasion and start baking with these easy-peasy bread recipes.
Being stuck indoors because of the pandemic can do wonders for your creativity – especially when you’ve exhausted all your options. So what’s a mum to do when she’s done with homeschooling and all the fun (and also very tiring) activities all day? Tie on an apron, unleash your inner domestic celestial, look for some easy bread recipes and jump on the baking bandwagon! Not only is rolling and punching dough super cathartic, eating a slice of bread is also really comforting. Think of it like a warm and not socially distanced hug – carby soup for the soul. If you’re ready to get onboard the loaf train, here’s the HoneyKids easy guide to baking bread in the comforts of your home…
What you’ll need to bake your own bread
Chances are, you’ll probably have most of these ingredients at home. But what most non-bread bakers won’t have is… you guessed it, yeast. Yeast is that super-cool living organism (!!) that makes your bread dough rise with air bubbles in the crumb. There are two types of yeast usually found in your local supermarket or online grocery: Active Dry and Instant/Rapid Rise Yeast.
1. Active Dry
It’s dry, granular in texture and needs to be mixed with lukewarm water to activate (proofing). After you mix it with water, you add it to your dry ingredients.
2. Instant/Rapid Rise
Yep, you guessed it – this activates more quickly and doesn’t need to be proofed. You just need to add it to your dry ingredients. It also helps dough rise faster than other yeasts.
3. Fresh/sourdough starters
Sourdough starters are made from the flour’s natural bacteria after it is mixed with water. Basically, it’s made by fermenting flour and water. You’ll need to feed it at least once a week to keep it healthy and happy. Some people have kept their sourdough starters for years!
While any brand of all-purpose (plain) flour works, you can also try wholewheat, bread flour or other speciality flours. The more bread baking experience you get, the easier it is to try out other kinds of flour. As a beginner, we recommend using bread flour or all-purpose white flour.
5. Salt and water!
For salt, it’s best to use either sea salt because it doesn’t have an unpleasant flavour, or fine salt as it’s easier to measure. Tap water is fine for bread making, though it’s recommended to use bottled mineral water. Distilled is a no-no. Also, don’t be afraid to add too much water! It introduces softness and lightness to your bread, which is what you want.
6. Digital scale
Any pastry chef will tell you that the only way to measure flour to the exact gram is by using a digital scale. Baking is a science, folks! Also, most bread recipes are written in either grams or ounces, so using measuring cups won’t work.
7. Dutch oven
Pricey and not necessary, but we reckon they’re worth it. They’re also handy for slow cooking and making stews.
Now that you have your supplies, here are some easy bread recipes to try at home:
1. Irish soda bread
If you’re scared to use yeast, then this is the bread for you. Another reason we love soda bread is that the buttermilk gives the bread that extra creamy, nutty flavour that Irish soda bread is known for. Thing is, you’ll need to use cold butter, which is tough in sunny Singapore. Our top tip? Close all the doors, blast the AC and try out this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
2. Foccacia with olives and rosemary
Apart from being one of our absolute faves to order at Italian restaurants, foccacia is easy to make and tastes great paired with a hearty soup or stew. You’ll need to use yeast for this foccacia with olives and rosemary recipe from Epicurious and let it rise around three times. Get the kids to press their fingertips all over the dough at the last step – they’ll love it!
3. Classic white loaf
Nothing says comfort food more than a classic white loaf, and this recipe from Jamie Oliver ticks all the boxes. Although this recipe involves a few more steps than the other recipes above, it’s worth all the work. You’ll need to proof your dough twice – it’s what gives the bread its light, fluffy texture.
4. Dutch oven bread
Not only does the bread from this Tasty recipe come out looking super photogenic (pictured up top), it’s also really easy to make. Yep, time and attention (and you’ll have a lot of that in these crazy times) are all you need – not much pastry chef skills. Also, if you don’t have a Dutch oven, a heavy-lidded oven-safe pot will do. Remember, when baking bread, patience is key!
5. Fluffy milk bread
Looking for something a little sweeter for the kids (or even yourself) to nom? This fluffy bread, also known as Hokkaido milk bread, is just the thing that you’d want to make. Plus, they’re not that complicated to do! We found this milk bread recipe from What to Cook Today that is easy to follow, requires no kneading, and no roux starter. Too good to be true? Try it out and let us know!
6. Pull apart garlic bread
Sure, we could cheat and make garlic bread in under 10 minutes, but where’s the fun in that? This garlic bread recipe from Gather for Bread promises to keep it simple for all you new bakers. Prep time only takes 30 minutes, and while you wait for it to rise and then bake, you can squeeze in some reading or an episode on Netflix. Before you know it: Voila! Your own garlic bread.
7. Healthy banana bread
Banana bread was the hot baking trend when we went into circuit breaker last year… but who says we can’t do it again? Swap out some ingredients for whole wheat flour, unsweetened applesauce, and almond milk to give it a healthy spin. We’re certain no one will be able to tell the difference! Follow this recipe from Real Simple.
The more you get into bread making, the more you’ll be tempted to keep going – especially after letting out all that pent-up frustration from all the homeschooling and working from home. Once you’ve mastered these recipes, you can move on to more complicated bread recipes like this sourdough bread one.
So give it a go and enjoy all that gluten, folks. You deserve it!