Have you noticed how much we rely on going shopping for everything? If the holidays have taught us anything, it’s that we can’t seem to survive a day or two without going to the shop.
Why is that? It’s because we need finished products, we don’t stock up on basics and ingredients (which would last much longer in the pantry) but reach for the pre-made products on the shelves which don’t last nearly as long.
The weekly shop, as generations before us did, seems impossible nowadays. Why is that?
Some of the reasons of course are that we prefer fresh fruit and vegetables to canned food, also that it’s harder to plan meals because of busy schedules, but mostly, it’s because we don’t make basic foods ourselves anymore.
And before you say that it takes too long to make bread and that we don’t have time for this nowadays and that’s why we don’t do it: You are right, it does take time, but not always.
We have picked three simple and quick bread recipes for you below, and only ones that requires the same amount of proving time that would equal to, or less than actually running to the shop, getting stuck in traffic, walking through all the aisles and waiting at the checkout.
Slow cooker bread
Your first option is to cook bread in a slow cooker. As you know, that’s always minimal preparation and no need to check on it every few minutes, so it’s easy to do.
We’ve tried a couple of different recipes for you, and one I always come back to is a basic scone recipe, which you can then adapt.
For the basic dough, mix 325g self-raising flour, 55g butter (in little cubes), a pinch of salt and 150ml milk. Mix the dry ingredients and then rub in the butter and at the end, add milk to make it soft.
If you want to make a sweet bread, add 30g caster sugar and your ingredients such as berries (we made blueberry scones/bread, or chocolate chip, or a spoonful or two of almond spread – it’s up to you.
For a savoury version, add your savoury ingredients: Mixing in some parmesan gives it a nice flavour and then add anything you like: dried tomatoes, olives, nuts… just make sure it’s chopped to the size of about half an olive.
Form a round or oval shape with your dough, line your slow cooker with baking paper and place the dough inside, scoring it a little at the top.
Cook it on high for 90 minutes while you go off and do other things and ready is your bread!
This is ideal for breakfast, especially if you want something sweet and for brunch or a snack if savoury.
Bread for dipping
Very quick and easy to make at the last minute are individual breads for dipping and they make a great side for a curry, dahl or to use with dips.
You can make naan bread or pita bread (we like the BBCGoodFood Naan recipe with garlic butter). Or you can try an even easier bread, Chapatti (also called Roti).
All you need are three ingredients (flour, any kind really, salt and vegetable oil then mix it with water) and a rolling pin (or anything to flatten your dough evenly) and off you go. It takes less than 20 minutes to make and they are ready to serve straight away, which is great if you ran out of bread and need some at the last minute. (This is also a dough you can make ahead of time and whip out of the fridge when needed). Because when don’t you have flour, oil and salt in the house?
Mix your ingredients, heat up your pan, separate your dough into balls and roll them out thinly and cook. If you are not too sure, take a look at this video to follow each step.
Once you feel confident with Roti, you could also try making Pita bread, which is similar but takes a little longer to cook because the dough is a little thicker.
Even if baking isn’t your thing, you can’t fail at banana bread. The banana makes it almost impossible for it to turn out dry or crumbly.
If you don’t usually eat bananas, keep some in the freezer and grab them when you need a quick bread. You can use this one for breakfast or as a snack or in the afternoon if you need something sweet as a ‘pick me up’.
The recipe is easy and the ingredients all keep in the pantry (or freezer) for a while so you can buy them ahead of time and use in your time of need.
You’ll need: 1/3 cup butter, 2-3 bananas (they get mushy in the freezer but that’s ok as you’ll mash them anyway, ½ to ¾ cup of sugar depending on how sweet you like it (you can use caster sugar or brown sugar), 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour, 1 tsp vanilla extract, ½ tsp baking soda, 1 egg. The egg is the only really fresh ingredient, but most of us do usually have one at home and they do last a while.
How to make it:
Mash the bananas, melt the butter and mix the two.
Then preheat your oven to 175 degrees and butter a loaf tin (or line it with baking paper).
Beat the egg, add it to the banana and butter mixture and then add all the other ingredients.
Pour into a tin, bake for 55 to 60 minutes. You can the let it cool down and serve, or freeze in slices for when you need it.
Try your hand at a real loaf of bread
The three recipes above will give you bread without having to really risk making bread and proving it and hoping for it to rise.
Even that – a real bread – is doable though. And actually, we found that winter is much easier to try and make it, because you can let your dough rise in a warm room while the heating is on. In our “summer” there may be a breeze and room temperatures change, so this is the perfect season to give it a whirl (or rather, a rest).
As a first attempt, Focaccia is great, because while it needs to rest and rise, the baking isn’t as complicated and the results are pretty impressive.
We found a lovely baker online who has easy to follow recipes – including a Focaccia recipe.
Bread by Elise goes through it step by step… and it works!
Fair warning: You will need to plan this bread a day in advance, so it’s not a last-minute idea to serve for dinner. But if you want to try your hand at baking, this is a good one to start with, and you can easily impress with a well-topped focaccia (olives and dried tomatoes can also be kept in the pantry as well as dry herbs so it’s perfect!).