Thursday, 1 November 2012

Home is where the bread is

Pizza, pasta and parmesan are amongst the reasons why Italy is known to be the country of the most delicious foods, but as an expat German there is one food, that I will always miss whenever I leave my native land: bread.
According to me, and the majority of my fellow citizens certainly agrees, when you grow up with German bread, nothing else can satisfy you. During my time in the US, in Canada and now in Italy I bought the most expensive types of bread labelled "contains European ingredients", "super crunchy" or "original German recipe",  however, whenever I took the first bite, my disappointment was guaranteed. That's how I started to experiment making my own bread. Years of practice, recipe variations, baking time adjustments and oven changes lead to ever the same outcome: not-so-German-tasting bread. Ironically, it was an Italian lady, my hopefully-soon-to-be-mother-in-law, who provided me with a basic recipe that always works for white bread. Using this as a basis, you can never go wrong. Trust me. I make the most delicious loaves and hardly ever buy bread at the store or the bakery anymore. For the recipe that follows I personally use a bread machine, but you can also bake the loaf in your oven (instructions to follow). So, let's start with the basic recipe that always works; variations will follow.

Ingredients for one loaf of bread:

610 grams of flour (you can always change the kind of flour you use, but not matter what you do,
                                 always make it 610 grams)
1 package of active dry yeast 
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of oil (I usually use olive oil, but you can also use sunflower seed oil or rapeseed oil)
1 pinch of salt
375 ml (12.68 oz or 1 1/2 cups) skim or low-fat milk

Mix the active dry yeast really well with the four, sugar and salt, add oil and milk. I never trust my bread maker, so I mix everything really well before putting it in there. Since I am always in a rush and bread runs out last minute I use the express mode of my bread machine (baking time 1 hour and 20 minutes). Works perfectly fine for me!

If you do not have such a fabulous tool simply use your oven. Make sure you proof the yeast for at least 30 minutes (better 1 hour) in a warm place. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees celsius (482 degrees fahrenheit) and bake for 30 minutes, then 180 degrees celsius (356 degrees fahrenheit) for another 30 minutes.

Whether you are German or not, I am sure this loaf will not go stale in your house!

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