How to enjoy freshly baked bread every morningFeb 22, 2021
A few years ago my bed and breakfast classroom course was reviewed by Sally Shalam for The Guardian newspaper. I’ve had a few journalists attend the training over the years, including the deputy editor of Country Living. I’m always a little apprehensive running a course with a journalist present, but I’ve had no disasters so far!
After the article appeared in the Guardian, I received a long email from a person complaining about the state of bed and breakfast toast. They explained that they’d stayed at some lovely B&Bs, serving amazing breakfasts that were then let down by the bread that was served. They were very keen that I explained to all future course attendees how important the quality of toast was to a breakfast!
So today’s blog post is all about bread and toast! It includes my favourite hack for having fresh bread available every morning without having to get up at 2am to start making it.
How to enjoy freshly baked bread every morning
We are very lucky in South Shropshire to have some amazing bakers and bakeries. I often think how nice it would be to live in one of our market towns and be able to stroll up to collect the bread and a few fresh croissants before breakfast.
Unfortunately, we live a good 6 miles from the nearest bakers, so I have to make my own.
When I first opened my B&B, I'll admit that I used Warburtons sliced bread from the supermarket. It tasted fine and kept well.
But, over the years, there’s been a bit of revolution in the quality and types of bread that we eat in the UK. And I think good bread is one of those little extras that guests now come to expect in a quality B&B.
If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you may have realised that I’m quite a lazy person at heart, so anything that reduces my time spent in the kitchen gets my vote.
I have 2 methods to make bread; using my bread maker and the no knead method. The no knead method will be in another post.
Bread maker method
I love my Panasonic bread maker. I’ve had mine for years and, despite being used at least once a day, it’s still going strong.
I don’t use it to bake the bread though. I don’t like the odd shaped loaf with the hole made by the paddle in the bottom and I find that I struggle to fit the bread into a standard toaster!
And, unless you have 2 bread makers, you can only have one type of bread baked fresh. And another confession is that I prefer my breakfast toast white, so I do like to offer my guests a choice too.
My solution to this is to only use the dough setting to make the bread and then shape and prove it overnight in the fridge. I then bake it straight from the fridge.
The unbaked loaf will sit quite happily for a few days in the fridge. It improves in taste and texture
The advantages of this are:
- You get 3 smaller loaves instead of one funny shaped one
- You can make more than one type of bread; in my case white and granary
- Depending on how much bread you’re getting through, you’re not having to make bread every day
- You get the smell of freshly baked bread in the morning - what nicer smell to greet the guests when they wake up!
- The bread is easier to digest when it’s had longer to prove.
- It’s much cheaper than buying bread from the bakers or supermarket
- If you're not going to use all of the loaves they freeze very well
There are a couple of disadvantages:
- Homemade, warm bread tastes so good it’s very difficult not to eat too much of it in one sitting!
- It can be difficult to slice when it’s warm, so you need to get your timings right.
My bread recipe and method ( bread maker method )
I haven’t noticed any difference between white bread flours. But I do swear by Wessex Mill Six Seed Bread Flour for a granary loaf. My guests and course attendees always comment on the bread made with this flour.
I make it with olive oil and maple syrup, so the loaf is vegan. But you can use honey and butter instead.
- 550g granary or white bread bread flour
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1.5 teaspoons fast action yeast ( I prefer Allinsons )
- 320 ml water
Put all of the ingredients in the bread maker, yeast first, then flour, then everything else. Use the dough setting - which is 16 on my current Panasonic machine.
When it’s finished put the dough onto a floured surface. Shape into 3 loaves. I usually create a slightly oval loaf.
Put the 3 loaves onto a baking tray, making sure they’re not too close together. I normally put each one onto an individual rectangle of baking parchment or silicon liner. This allows me to take one loaf off the tray to bake individually.
I then cover the loaves with something like beeswax wrap and put into the fridge at least overnight ( you could allow it to prove at room temperature for about an hour and then bake if preferred )
In the morning heat the oven to about 190 degrees celsius ( fan oven ), a bit hotter for non fan ovens.
I take one white and one granary bread out of the fridge and place on a lined baking tray.
Then bake for about 25 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire tray.
It can be difficult to cut the bread if it’s still warm. One piece of advice from Sharon at Holly Tree House B&B in Suffolk is to use an electric knife if the bread is too warm!
The following schedule usually means I have bread cool enough to slice!
- Get up at 6.30 and put the oven on
- Have a shower and then put the bread into the oven at 6.45
- Finish getting dressed.
- Take bread out of the oven at 7.10
- Slice bread at 8.20 and put under a glass cake dome
- First breakfast at 8.30
After a few years of struggling to get toast to guests the exact colour and temperature they wanted to eat at a specific point with their breakfast, I put a toaster into the guest dining room. Guests now make their own toast.
Putting the bread under a glass dome keeps it fresh for at least 2 days. This blog post shows you the buffet table with dome
Obviously with social distancing and COVID restrictions this has become more of a challenge for B&Bs. With only 2 rooms, I was able to have 2 individual buffets and I bought an extra toaster.
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