Here's a very traditional Finnish bread recipe. Typically this would be made into rolls, but no reason you couldn't make it into a loaf too. It has a great orange-yellow colour and a mild carrot flavour. It's from my trusty baking book Suuri Leivontakirja - Kotilieden parhaat leivonnaiset.
- Mix flour, water or milk, carrots, salt and yeast thoroughly. First mix yeast with sugar and little of the warm water and wait until it's frothy. Then what I do is put all the flour on the work surface and mix it with other dry incredients - then making a well in the centre of the heap where all the liquid goes.
- Kneading for gluten. By hand, or course - and I find that using a work surface instead of a bowl works better for me. At first it may be difficult to figure out what the dough should feel like, so use your watch - this should take 7 to 8 minutes. At this time it's also important to observe the dough to make sure you're not putting too much (or too little) flour in it - it's quite normal that you need more or less than in the recipe. Dough is good to go when you can spread little out between your hands and it streches to a very thin skin without breaking (also called "window test"). The dough should be a little sticky at all times, as well as smooth and elastic.
- Leave the dough to rise. Put in into an oiled bowl and cover with a cloth - if you put it into a warm place it will rise more quickly, but you can put it into the fridge too (only it will take days then). This can actually be quite useful too - you can put your dough into the fridge, then go out and take it only out when you're ready to bake it. The dough has risen enough when it's doubled in size.
- Knocking the dough out again. This is done so that the bubbles that have formed are broken and can be distributed evenly. At this point you want to shape your dough - loafs or rolls, whatever you want.
- Second rising. Again, leave for about half an hour in a warm place - this is also one of those things you need to practice with. Remember that bread doesn't rise in the oven anymore like cakes that use baking powder - so you need to let them rise enough to get nice and puffy bread.
- Bake in 225 C for 10 - 15 minutes as a guideline but as always nothing beats experience. Generally bread is cooked when you tap the bottom of it with your finger and it sounds hollow - this can be difficult to judge in the beginning though, so use the recipe's guidelines and learn to judge what a good bread sounds like.
- Cooling. Warm bread is delicious, but hot bread is disgusting - it's not set yet properly. So put it on a cooling rack for 10-20 minutes and be patient!