Okay, here is the most basic, fundamental leavened loaf that you can make using the five classic ingredients. I can almost guarantee that if you follow the instructions, you will have a loaf that will show you just how much better home made bread is than shop bought.
First the ingredients – I have named brands because they have proven extremely reliable for me.
- 500 grams of strong white flour – Allinson for choice.
- 10 grams of Allinson Easy Bake Yeast
- 25 grams of butter – either salted or not
- 10 grams of salt
- 300 grams of water
Chuck the flour into a mixing bowl.
Add the yeast.
Chop up the butter into small pieces, and add to the bowl.
Now, this is where I differ from most people's recipes – I add my salt to the water, and stir until it is dissolved. Pour your salted water into the bowl with the dry(ish) ingredients.
With a hand held whisk with dough hooks, start mixing the water into the flour, and continue stirring and picking up the dry flour until you get a fairly dry dough. (In truth, the dough is not dry, but is wet on the inside, and floury on the outside).
Once you get to this stage, stop whisking and force the dough onto the remaining flour by hand. If necessary, drag the ball of dough across any dry or buttery bits on the sides of the bowl to pick up the last pieces. You want the bowl to be fairly clean.
Then resume with the dough hooks for at least five minutes. During this time the dough will pass through several stages. At first, it may look smooth, but if you pinch a bit between thumb and forefinger it will break away easily. Continue until it is stretchy, and you can pull it out a couple of inches without it breaking off the main ball.
At this point the dough is ready for its first proving. Leave it in a warm place, covered with a damp tea towel or kitchen roll, for an hour or so. During this time it will double in size.
Put some oil or flour on your hands, and mix the dough by hand. At this point your aim is to pull the dough into a ball, and ensure that the sides of the bowl are clean.
Put the loaf on a baking tray, (best covered with baking parchment – the tray, not the loaf). In these photos I put the loaf into a lightly oiled tin.
Place in a cold oven with a pie dish of boiling water. This will keep the dough warm enough to rise, and steam from the water will prevent a skin forming on the dough. This makes it a lot easier for the loaf to rise.
After thirty minutes, Slice the loaf across the top with a bread knife, making a cut about half an inch deep, and put the loaf into a pre-heated oven at about 220 degrees centigrade. If it is safe, spray some moisture over the loaf.
Leave for 35 – 40 minutes, take it out and cool on a wire rack until safe. Give into temptation because of the smell, and you will learn what safe is – the slices will be doughy and give you indigestion, which will be well deserved.
Enjoy with butter and your favourite sandwich filler – I like cheese, jam, marmalade, peanut butter, pate, bacon… oh the list is endless.
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If you find yourself wanting to try something different, here are some suggestions I have to tempt you… the first is a nice series of photos on bread making, the second is an exciting Indian toast which made my mouth water (I spent a couple of months in India last year and developed a taste for some of their recipes) and the last is a simple introduction from Samantha for tips on how to improve your baking… and if you explore her site, you will see why she thinks you may call her names.
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