Bread is a staple food prepared by baking a bonded dough of flour and water. Delivered by the ton daily and usually easy to prepare, bread is an afterthought for many. But for veteran journalist Harald Pakendorf the process of baking bread has an almost sentimental essence to it.
“It has a bit of history, my mother comes from Germany, she came to South Africa with my father who was a student there in the 1930’s. Their first stationing was in Lydenburg; the Afrikaans women in the station taught her how to bake it and it is a recipe I still use today,” says the journalist-turned-restaurateur.
“I bake one of those loaves and the whole house just smells of fresh bread and we actually sold the bread at my restaurant.”
(For 1 loaf)
- 5 cups white bread flour (and a little more for kneading)
- 2 x 10g instant dried yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- +- 450 ml lukewarm water
- Take a wide mixing bowl and tip in the flour, yeast, sugar and salt and gently mix.
- Add the water, little by little, while kneading and the dough becomes sticky and soft.
- Generously flour a flat working surface, scoop the dough onto it and knead. It could take ten minutes or more.
- Knead until the dough doesn’t stick to your hands anymore and it’s springy to the touch.
- Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a clean dishcloth and let it rest somewhere warm where there is no draught. A slightly warm oven is ideal. Leave to rest for an hour or more or until it has doubled in size.
- Knead the dough again for a few minutes, scraping off the dough that has stuck to the bowl.
- Thoroughly butter a bread pan and tip the dough into it. Spread it evenly in the pan.
- Cover it again with a cloth and let it rise again or double in size.
- Set the oven to 180˚C. Once the dough has doubled in size, place it in the oven and don’t slam the door.
- After an hour, take the pan from the oven and turn upside down. The bread should slide easily out of the pan.
- Tap the bottom, and if it sounds hollow, you did it! Let it cool on a wire rack so it doesn’t sweat.
- You may have to adapt a little – not all ovens are the same, for example.
- Add a little more water, maybe little less.
- It’s important that you knead properly.
- Keep a touch of flour so in the end you rub it into your hands to get the dough off.