Good bread needs time to make.
Now time isn't something that modern supermarket bread gets a lot of. Your average white sliced loaf will be mixed, proved (left to rise), baked, cooled, sliced and wrapped in about three hours. In terms of flavour, it's the proving time that's the most important. This is the time that the yeast and ingredients do all their stuff. The time that the flavours develop and mature.
Your average supermaket sliced loaf gets a mere forty five minutes to do this.
In contrast, if you were making a standard loaf at home, you'd probably give about 90 minutes at least. But you can make a really good, flavoursome loaf by maturing part of the bread mix for a lot longer. A good French bread or a Ciabatta will be done in this way - fermented and developed over many, many hours.
When I was looking to buy a breadmaker, I did some research online and some of the (sniffy) comments I read were very dismissive about breadmakers because they made bread "too fast" for their liking.
(This still makes me laugh as when making a loaf my hand, I'd usually have it mixed, proved and baked in two and a half hours. To make the same loaf, my breadmaker will take four to five hours.)
However it's more than possible to use a breadmaker to make a slow fermented bread. True, the average breadmaker doesn't have an automatic setting to handle it, but it's doable. It just needs a little creativity.
Slow fermented bread is made in two steps. First you make a starter out of flour, yeast and water and mix it in to a batter like mixture. Once mixed, you leave the starter to mature overnight, or longer if you prefer (the longer the better!) Then you mix in more ingredients, let the bread rise and then bake.
How can you do this in a breadmaker? Well you just need to follow this recipe:
Bods's Slow Fermented Breadmaker Bread
It should be noted that this works in my breadmaker. You may need to adapt it slightly for yours. But give it a go and see what happens.
- ½ teaspoon fast action yeast
- 175g strong flour - white is good, wholemeal also works well.
- 200ml water
- ¼ teaspoon fast action yeast
- 325g strong flour - again, your choice
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 80ml water
- First place all the starter ingredients in the bread pan. Now consult your breadmaker and find a setting that will start kneading your dough straight away. On mine the "Pizza" setting does this. However if you have no settings that don't involve a rest period, just wait for this to complete.
- Let the machine knead the dough for 15 minutes and stop the machine.
- Leave the mixture in the bread pan for at least 12 hours - leaving for 24 or even 48 hours will help develop even more flavour. After a few hours you will see little holes in the mixture - these are oxygen bubbles which shows the yeast is doing its job.
- Next, add the remaining ingredients in to the bread pan and set breadmaker to a basic bread setting - white bread or wholemeal as appropriate.
- Once baked, let it cool and then enjoy a tasty loaf!
Another alternative option is at step 4 to use a dough-only mode and then shape the bread in to a cob shape and let it rise in a warm place for 90 minutes until it has doubled in size. Then bake in a hot oven at 220°C for about 40 minutes. This is what I did. Result? Delicious. You can see the result at the top of this blog post. Yum.
Surprisingly my revelation of good bread resultage didn't provide a huge response when I wrote about it on Twitter. Posting this photo of my newborn son, Samuel, seemed to have just a bit more response. Absolutely no idea why...