Country Smallholding|January 2020
Home-made bread tastes delicious, makes the kitchen smell gorgeous and is cheaper and healthier than shop-bought loaves. Here AGA demonstrator Naomi Hansell gives us her top tips…

I love to make bread in my AGA cooker because it’s quicker, cheaper and better than buying it. When I learned to cook at Ballymaloe with Darina Allen, she always said, “it takes time, but it’s not your time”. That’s so true because you can quickly make a batch of dough and sit it next to the AGA or on a cloth on the simmering plate lid and it will prove quickly and then you can pop it in to bake. It costs about 60p for a basic loaf, which is almost half of a shopbought version and without any of the additives.

The AGA cooker is brilliant for bread for many reasons. It’s so much better than other types of cooker as you have the all-round radiant heat. When you put your bread in, you get a really lovely oven spring. There’s no need to put in ice cubes, water or anything else — you just need to let the AGA do its thing.

With bread, it’s important to be accurate, so I weigh everything, including the liquids, because the percentages matter a lot for bread, and measuring liquids in a jug can be a bit haphazard.


On a daily and weekly basis, I make what I call daily bread. It’s really simple — you just mix 450g of water, 750g of strong white flour, a couple of teaspoons of dried instant yeast (or fresh if you prefer) and a teaspoon of salt. Then knead it by hand, in a machine, or mixer.

You’ll know it’s ready to prove when you press it with your thumb and it springs back. You can prove it either on the top of the AGA on the simmering plate on a cloth or, if it’s warm in the kitchen, then just beside the AGA until it’s just about level with the top of the tin.


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January 2020