In April 1982 Jim opened his first premises in Portlaoise. His business has grown over the years and The Kitchen and Foodhall is now a popular cafe/restaurant and a must-see for anyone visiting Portlaoise. His popularity was confirmed in 2007 when he won Laois Person of the year.
Anyhow I decided I was going to look after the family’s health and produce beautiful, additive-free fresh bread from my own kitchen. Leading a very busy life I needed a method of making bread that would be quick and convenient. Easier said than done as it turned out and it took many months of trial and error before I could produce a decent loaf.I don’t have the patience for all that kneading. I never give it long enough to produce the ’silky smooth’ texture that you should have - "smooth as a baby’s bum" - I had to look at other more convenient/mechanical ways to produce my dough.
So I bought myself a bread machine. This produces decent tasting loaves and is very convenient and ‘hands free’ but I prefer to make the medium sized loaves rather than large as I don't like the shape of the large - too tall and difficult to slice. It has a really handy delay timer function so I can throw the ingredients into the machine in the morning and have freshly baked bread waiting when I get home from work. This delay timer is great for a basic white bread but it doesn't work for any of the more complicated recipes particularly if they contain milk or eggs. I have discovered that this machine is also very convenient for just mixing and proving the dough (a process that takes 1.5 hours exactly) and then I can shape the dough however I want, give it a half hour 2nd rise in a warm place, and bake in the conventional oven. Lovely bread with very little manual effort from me.
At the weekends I like to experiment with more hands-on methods, making the dough by hand or in the Kitchenaid, but I'll leave that to another post. The 'half bread machine' method above is the one I use for our regular daily bread. It is handy to throw the ingredients into the bread machine and leave it to work whilst I get on with other things. When finished mixing and proving, I punch the dough to let out the air and shape it into loaves or rolls and leave to rise again for about 1/2 hour, dust with flour or brush over with egg wash and a sprinkling of sesame seeds or poppy seeds then bake in a pre-heated oven.
Tip: I often make bread in the evenings and place in the fridge just after the final shaping stage. The bread rises very slowly overnight and the next morning I take it out (gently! not to knock the air out) to come to room temperature whilst I heat the oven and then bake as usual. This is particularly useful if you want fresh rolls for lunch. Warning: If you are rising the bread overnight do not slash the top of the bread before baking or the bread will collapse. I have done it several times!Basic white bread recipe
This is the 'every day' white bread that I make using the 'half machine' method above
- 300ml warm water
- 1 sachet yeast
- 450g Strong White Flour
- heaped teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil/sunflower oil/soft butter
Use the bread machine's manufacturers directions for dough only. (Usually takes 1 1/2 hours) Remove from the machine, place onto a lightly dusted board and shape as you wish. Leave to prove in a warm place for about another 1/2 to 3/4 hour and then bake in a preheated oven 190C until browned and the base sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a rack and then enjoy!