Dominique and I bake our own bread. It doesn’t take much time, it’s not much more expensive than the stuff you buy in the supermarket, and they say it’s super healthy. I’m not particularly aware of healthy stuff – I go for good taste that fits our budget – but it helps.
Baking Bread: A Family Tradition
As you may know, I grew up in Holland. And for about twenty years my dad has been baking his own bread. I’m not sure how and where he picked up the idea of baking bread himself, but he did. And so, on a sunny Saturday morning, we all jumped into the car and took off for a 3-hour drive to Germany, the country where my mom is from. After having seen lots of exciting things (we did visit some sightseeing places on the trip), we returned home with a small flour mill and a big bag of wheat, as well as fresh yeast. Everything was there and dad started on his journey.
Needless to say that there were some difficulties at first. We kids didn’t quite like the taste. And, to be honest, dad was still figuring out the right proportion of fresh, ground wheat, white flower, fresh yeast, salt, oil and water. Yep, these are the ingredients for our bread, and they haven’t really changed. Except for the quantities, and that I now use instant yeast instead of fresh yeast.
Buying a Flour Mill – A Tradition Continued
Fast forward to 2016. I know that I will be moving to South Africa – my fiancée is awaiting me there. Her birthday is coming up, and… I decide to gift her a flour mill! She loves baking, innovating, and all things wood. I cross my fingers that the gift will check all the boxes and make her happy, and… it seems to have worked 🙂
The mill I ordered is the Hawos Queen 1 (their website is in German, but Google Translate will help you there. They ship to anywhere in the world).
This flour mill has a 360W engine and the corundum-ceramic grindstones have a diameter of 100mm. This mill will grind about 125gr of wheat to fine flour in a minute. The speed of a mill is something to keep in mind when considering buying a flour mill: I grind 500gr of wheat every other day, making two breads at a time, and I don’t want that to take half an hour.
Buying Wheat – Dutch Windmills and South Africa
As for the wheat: My dad now gets his wheat from a monumental windmill in the centre of the Netherlands called “De Vriendschap” (link in Dutch – and here is another website with more photos, also of the inside of the Windmill). A group of volunteer millers keep the mill running every Saturday and they sell all kinds of kernels, flour, yeast, as well as self-made breads, cookies and other bakeries.
I haven’t found such a beautiful windmill here in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, yet. And so we buy our wheat just at the supermarket, together with the instant yeast. Wonder which wheat we use? We use local (South African) pearled whole wheat “Stampkoring”.
Recipe for home-baked bread
(for tow loaves of bread)
Wheat: 500gr (to be ground)
Instant yeast: 10gr
Salt: 1 tsp
Oil: 30ml – we use sunflower oil
Luke-warm water: 700mL
A Step by Step Guide to Making Bread
(You will find the photos that go with the following steps at the bottom of the list so that the steps can be followed more easily)
- Grind the wheat
- Spread the yeast evenly in the mixing bowl
- Add the white flour
- Make a bit of a hole in the middle (or anywhere, really) and add the salt and oil
- Add all of the water (lukewarm)
- Start mixing, or kneed by hand if you so desire
- After mixing for about 4 minutes at a low speed (no.1 to 3 on our Kenwood) the dough should become a nice sticky mass and no longer stick to the bowl. At that point, I stop the mixer and put the dough on a flat surface to divide it in two equal parts. Be aware that you don’t want the dough to lose its warmth, so don’t spread it thinly and don’t take too long to split the dough in two. The parts don’t have to be perfectly equal.
- Put the two parts in their bread pans, and let them rise until they reach the desired height (bulging just over the top of the pan is what we like).
- When the breads have risen, put them in a pre-heated oven. For a gas oven we recommend 190 degrees Celsius, for 40-45 minutes.
And here are the photos that go with these steps:
And then there’s that priceless moment when you cut a couple of slices of your freshly baked bread… Enjoy your meal!
(Psst, did you spot the paint brushes in that last photo? Artsy stuff can be found everywhere in our house!)