Healthy loaf for the family

AS AN amateur cook who cooks and bakes on a daily basis at home, my personal preference revolves around simple recipes which use as few ingredients as possible, and cooking methods which are quick and easy.

Unlike chefs whose skills and time are dedicated to solely producing tantalising food to please customers, those of us whose purpose for cooking is to feed our family healthily would happily seek out time- and cost-saving recipes.

Many basic snacks and desserts such as cookies and bread that we buy from bakeries and supermarkets can be made at home quite easily and quickly.

The benefits include having control over the serving size, ingredients used and catering to fussy palates.

Where bread is concerned, we can use our personal choice of type of flour, add-on ingredients such as fruits, seeds and nuts, and leave out conditioners, artificial flavourings and preservatives.

For a basic loaf of bread, all you need is some bread flour, dried yeast, water, sugar, salt and butter.

For this recipe, I have used wholemeal flour.

Wholemeal braided bread loaf

Ingredients

500g wholemeal flour
1.5 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp castor sugar
350ml lukewarm water
1 tsp salt
25g butter, diced

Method

1. Mix the yeast and sugar with a little water. Stir to mix well and leave it until the mixture becomes frothy.

2. In a bowl, mix the butter and flour together by rubbing them with your fingertips until they are combined well.

3. Make a well in the middle, pour in the yeast mixture and remaining water. Stir with a wooden spoon to make a dough.

4. With your hands, shape the dough into a ball, knead it on a lightly-floured surface.

5. To knead, hold one end of the dough with one hand. With the heel of your other hand, push the dough away from you to stretch it. Pick up the far edge of the dough and fold it back. Press it into a ball and repeat the stretching.

6. After kneading for 10 minutes, place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl and cover it with a clean damp towel. Leave it to rise in a warm place for about an hour until it has doubled in size.

7. Grease a baking pan and preheat oven at 220°C.

8. On a lightly-floured surface, press the dough with your fist to remove air bubbles. Divide the dough into three equal parts.

9. Gently roll each portion with your hands to become a cylinder. Place the three rolls parallel to each other and braid them together.

10. Fold the ends under and put the loaf onto the baking sheet. Leave it for 30 minutes to rise further.

11. Bake the loaf in the oven for 30 minutes. When done, remove from oven and leave to cool before storing or cutting.