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Baking your own bread is really quite simple. You don't need a bread making machine. A hand mixer, a big bowl and the normal oven will do the trick. There's endless possibility for variation, and you don't really need to follow a recipe either.
This is the basic principle I follow: I stir the yeast (I use dry yeast from the shop) into some warm water, add a table spoon (or so) of flour and a bit of sugar. Yeast is living organisms which want to have plenty to "eat" in a warm area (not over 40 degrees Celsius - that's important!). I therefore put the bowl into a warm place, generally the oven (or on the windowsill, if the sun is shining) and wait till the mixture is nicely bubbly (that's a sign that the yeast is active and multiplying) - or till I have time for the next step.
The next step is mixing all the ingredients into the yeast (the salt not in the beginning - salt can kill yeast if the contact is direct) and putting the dough into a warm place to raise - as before.
With a bit of luck I remember the dough before it raises over the edge of the bowl, mix or kneed it again, and form a loaf on a floured baking tray. If the dough seems too liquid for that (especially if I have followed a recipe and the consistency is supposed to be correct) I may also put it in a cake form (on baking paper). Finally the dough goes into the oven at between 150 and 200 centigrade, unless the recipe specifies otherwise. Time is again by feel - if a skewer pushed into the bread comes out clean it should be ready.
In memory of my mother, Juliane Decker, here her bread recipe:
Mix yeast, sugar and warm water and let raise for 20 minutes. Then make a dough with buttermilk and spices. Let raise for 20 minutes. Form a loaf on baking a tray. Before baking, smooth with wet hands and pick with a skewer. If the dough goes into a cold oven, bake for 2 hours at 190 centigrade.
I think my oven heats up faster than my mother's therefore I usually set the timer for less than 2 hours - you need to find out the right time for your equipment.
Page updated: 07 April 2007