This post was made possible by Sainsbury’s, who sent me a pack of their Golden Multiseed Bread Mix to try. The opinions in the post are, as ever, mine, and the review is honest.
They say you should always start with a positive. I do have lots of positive things to say about this product, but I think it’s important to come right out and be honest up front.
I don’t use a lot of bread mixes.
There, I said it.
I feel like they don’t really reduce the amount of work you do, and you may as well go ahead and make a loaf from absolute scratch. However, I will concede that with a seeded loaf, it’s nice not to be weighing and measuring . With this particular mix, the colour of the loaf is really striking, and took a balance of different flours to achieve that but also retain the lovely, soft, good-for-sandwiches texture. So, in those senses, the bread mix does some work for you, and leaves you with only the basics to contend with.
The packet comes with instructions, of course, but I felt they could use a little tweaking. So, here is the recipe (copied from the Sainsbury’s website) with my annotations:
You will need:
- 500g Sainsbury’s TTD Golden Multiseed Bread Mix,
- 320ml Water – Use caution here: I needed less than this. More later.
- 25g Butter/15ml Olive Oil – I used olive oil
To bake by hand:
- Rub the bread mix with the butter or oil in a bowl with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Gradually add the water to form a soft dough
This part is like making scones, though the fat to flour ratio is much lower than in a scone recipe. I think the idea of adding butter or oil is to add moisture, and to enhance the flavour of the finished bread.
I only added around 270ml water – definitely take heed of the word ‘gradually’ in the instruction. Add a little at a time.
My dough was soft but also a bit sticky. In making lots of bread I’ve learned that more moisture means a stickier dough, but also means a lighter finished loaf.
- Knead well on a floured surface for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, then place it back in the bowl, cover with lightly oiled cling film. Leave the dough in a warm place for one hour to rise and double in size.
Having wet hands makes it easier to handle the dough without it sticking so much. Oiling your work surface means the dough won’t stick as much, and you won’t dry out the dough by adding extra flour.
I kneaded the dough for a full ten minutes, and it definitely required the full time to be ready. It never got to be completely smooth but it was very stretchy, and formed a taut skin when I shaped it into a ball.
I didn’t have any clingfilm, and simply oiled the bowl, put the dough in, then covered with tea towels.
- Knead well again on a floured surface for a few minutes, place in a greased 2lb loaf tin. Cover with lightly oiled cling film. Leave the dough in a warm place for half an hour to rise again and increase in size. Preheated oven 230oC/450oF/Gas mark 8
I didn’t exactly follow the directions here – I thought that ‘knead well’ was kind of an unfocused instruction, in terms of then getting your well-kneaded (well-kned…?) dough into the right shape for the loaf pan. I tipped the dough onto the surface, then pressed all the air out with my knuckles and palms, until I had a flat rectangle. I then folded the rectangle to fit my loaf pan, pressed gently but firmly so that I didn’t have any pockets of air trapped in the middle, and put into the tin.
Again, I covered with tea towels instead of cling film, and there was no problem with the dough sticking to them.
I left it to rise for about an hour, since I got caught up doing something else. It suffered no ill effects from this extended rise.
I love the colour of the bread – it almost looks baked already!
- Remove cling film and bake in the top of the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
This was the colour of my loaf after 20 minutes, and it was perfectly baked inside. 230C is a very high temperature to bake something, uncovered, for half an hour. I was concerned that the crust would taste burnt, but my worries were needless. It tasted great. Keep an eye, and a nose, on the baking bread. It is cooked when it is browned on top, and (once you take it out the tin…) sounds hollow when tapped.
Thus ends my tale of bread mix baking – it was a success! Something else that I found interesting was that the loaf lasted a week, sitting in a tupperware at room temperature. Freshly baked bread is usually more prone to drying out than shop-bought, but this loaf kept really well. It also sliced beautifully, which is something I have struggled with in home baked bread, and had a soft crust that was spot on for sandwiches.
What I’m saying is, this bread mix made a gosh-darned fine loaf.
Will I change permanently to bread mixes? No.
Would I recommend this one? Yes.
You do still have to put in almost as much work, but if you’re a little nervous of bread baking, or you’re not sure about dealing with yeast, this is a great place to start. You get practise in kneading, and you get the satisfaction of seeing your bread dough rise, which I think is still my favourite kitchen magic of all. Also, this bread mix contains no preservatives, colourings, emulsifiers or any of that carry on. In fact, its ingredient list is shorter than your average shop-bought loaf.
Plus, just look at that crumb: