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Everything you knead to know

Posted by: Richard Abbey
123Everything you knead to know supporting image

In his book Staff of Life, Simon Thomas shows you how to make real artisan bread at home, perfect for National Bread Week.


Here, Simon outlines what you’ll need to get started.



At its most basic all you really need is flour and water but given that we want to make the first loaf an easy one, and one which will appeal to your family and friends, you will need a little more.



Best to start with wheat flour.



Unless the tap water in your neighbourhood is foul tasting it will be just fine. If it really is undrinkable use still bottled water. Fizzy water will not make your bread rise any quicker.



You can use fresh yeast, often available in delis and at supermarket deli counters these days, or dried active yeast in sachets or in bulk.



Regular table salt or cooking salt is fine. Expensive varieties of sea salt are equally effective.



An oven; electric, gas, solid fuel, take your pick... anything but microwaves is good. A kettle, or other means of heating water other than the hot tap. A bowl, or a trough to mix in, and also to rest the dough in and contain it while it proves. The old-school artisans used wooden troughs. Plastic is perfect; ideally your bowl should be semi-transparent so you can see the bubbles as the dough proves. Pyrex or Mason Cash stoneware are suitable too.


A jug to mix and pour the water. At least one hand. A flexible plastic semi-circular bowl scraper. A baking sheet or bread tin; ideally one which has been much used (new tins tend to stick easily). Brush with oil or butter wrapper. A sieve is handy for dusting surfaces ready for kneading. A wooden or plastic hoop with fine nylon mesh construction is best. Oven gloves, or an oven cloth. We use welders’ gloves at the bakery.


Be in a good mood,with an open and receptive mind. The mood will be enhanced as you continue with the breadmaking, trust me.


Staff of Life, by Simon Thomas and published by RMC Books, is out now priced £14.95.