Sunday, 28 August 2011

How to Survive the Apocalypse Part 1: Baking Bread

I've got a slight obsession with what I would do in a post-apocalyptic situation. Given a lack of tools, resources and the skills to extract them from the natural environment I wonder how I would be able to survive in this brave new world.

On that note, one of the things I couldn't live without is bread. I love bread, it's my favorite food and imagining a life without it isn't an option. I don't however know how to make it, so I've decided to learn how.

Of course in a post-apocalypse scenario I'd need to also know how to make an oven, how to make a mill, how to grow wheat, how to get yeast and how to mill the aforementioned wheat with the theoretical mill. Most of this is a little impractical to test in my house though so I've learned how to do these (Wikipedia is amazing), and will limit practical excersises to things that don't involve digging out an earth oven in my garden.

So to begin the recipe for bread: very simple really flour, water, salt and yeast. This recipe called for 650g of flour, 15g of yeast, 5g of salt and 400ml of water, mix it all up in a bowl.

Keep mixing until you have a ball of dough, by this point it shouldn't be sticking to your hands, if it is keep adding flour until it's a cohesive ball.

Then you need to knead the dough (forgot to take a pic of this) but basically it just involves stretching the dough to help it rise (this stretches the gluten in the dough which allows air bubbles to form without ripping the dough), not enough kneading will result in the bread not rising properly. Make sure when you knead you do it slowly or the bread will rip. I normally knead for 5-15 mins.

Once its kneaded shape it to the desired form and cover it with a damp cloth, then it needs to be put somehwere warm to rise. I put the bottom oven on to 150C then put the dough in the top oven. Leave to rise for approx 45 mins, the dough should double-triple in size.

The bread is now ready to bake, simply move from the top oven to the bottom oven (still at 150C). If you want a crispy crust put a roasting dish in the bottom of the oven (before the bread) when you put the dough in add water to the tray. The steam this creates will give a nice crusty crust.

Leave in the oven for 30 mins or so until it looks like this.

Now cut, butter and enjoy.

And sleep sound knowing that if ever the apocalypse comes you can still enjoy the nicest food known to man.

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