One of the most common queries that I am asked on #JackMonroesLockdownLarder on Twitter, is whether you can make bread with plain flour, self raising flour, spelt flour, no yeast, or whatever else disparate array of dusty baking ingredients people are desperately filching out of the backs of their cupboards in these straitened times.
So I’m going to put a few myths to bed here, and possibly aggravate some food purists in the process, but as I said to one ‘bread truther’ online late last night, you can come back to me with your patronising defence of strong bread flour when people can get it in the shops again, but now is certainly not the time, nor the place.
A caveat. I have used strong bread flour in baking once or twice. It worked well. But certainly not well enough to justify the quadruple price tag to that of supermarket ‘basic’ plain white flour, which I have been using to bake bread for a decade, seven cookbooks, and thousands of recipes.
Plain flour works just fine for baking bread. I promise you.
And on that note, so does self-raising flour. As the name suggests, it gives a beautifully effective rise, making for a lovely light airy loaf.
You don’t need a bread maker. You have one already, in your palms and your knuckles. You can be a breadmaker. But if you have one, great!
You can make bread in a slow cooker. It’s delicious.
You can make bread without yeast. Use a beer as the liquid element, and leave it to rise for around and hours in a warm place.
The best beers are those with a degree of sediment in the bottom of the bottle, but any beer will do in a pinch. Add a pinch of bicarb and a dash of vinegar to kickstart the process, and it should behave like standard bread dough.
Another yeast-free bread is soda bread, made with flour, milk, lemon juice or vinegar, and bicarb or baking powder.
Leftover bread can be made into a panzanella, or a pappa al pomodoro, or folded through a bean stew to thicken and enrich it, or made into ice cream.
Leftover crusts can be blitzed to crumbs and used to make stuffing, nut loaves, meatloaf, to top lasagnes, mac n cheese, or folded through pasta with lemon, pepper, and butter or oil.
Bread needn’t be complicated.