Our book of the week is The Handmaid’s Tale and bread plays an important role in the discourse around gender roles within this story. It’s used as a way to put people down and in their place. With shops named Daily Bread and Loaves and Fishes which don’t actually sell bread there is a hard line taken by the leaders of Gilead that women should be in the home baking bread as a sign of family values.
We read this book and immediately wanted to reclaim the act of bread making the pleasure and relaxation it can bring you and for the community and relationship building it can inspire. So, grab your apron and your yeast and let’s see what we can achieve.
- 500g strong white flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 7g yeast (preferably a sachet of fast action yeast)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 300ml water
Step 1: Start by gathering your ingredients and washing your hands.
Step 2: Sieve your flour into a large bowl and mix in the salt and yeast.
Step 3: Make a well in the centre of your flour and add in the olive oil and water and start to form together. If your dough is too thick and stiff, then add in slightly more water a tbsp at a time.
Step 4: Once you’ve combined your flour, water, and oil you should have a ball of dough that requires kneading. Tip it out onto a clean and floured surface and knead by hand for around 10 minutes.
Step 5: To knead you want to push down with the hell of your palm and push the bread away from you before bringing it back and pushing again.
Step 6: After 10 minutes your dough should have a satin-smooth texture. Place it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave it to rise for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
Step 7: Place the risen dough onto a floured surface again and knock it back to gently form the shape you want your bread to be (knock back: to punch the air out and pull the dough in on itself)
Step 8: Line a baking tray with baking parchment and place the dough in the centre. Leave to prove for another hour until it has doubled in size.
Step 9: Heat oven to 200C/ gas 7
Step 10: Dust the loaf with a little bit of extra flour and cut a cross into the centre of the loaf with a very sharp knife
Step 11: Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until it is golden brown, and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap underneath.
Let the loaf cool and then enjoy.