Saturday, 23 January 2016

Basic White Loaf

I lost this post so many times when trying to write it.  No idea why as it would always happen after saving and closing.  Upon re-opening, the content had vanished.  It has been terribly frustrating trying to write this multiple times.  Hence, this is an even shorter post than intended. I just want this thing done and posted before it mysteriously disappears on me again.

So, anyway, January has become a bit of a yeasted month.  Lots of breads so far and there's a deliciously amazing yeasted treat coming next week to finish out the month.  I've been obsessing over bread ever since I obtained James Morton's Brilliant Bread with a Christmas Amazon voucher (thanks again, Nanny and Grandad!).  I've been after a second dedicated bread book for a while and this one had rave reviews (the only negative one was about the publisher, not the book itself).  I'm not surprised. Bread was James' thing when he was on Bake Off after all.  It's a fascinating and enjoyable read.  There are lots of good tips and hints to help you understand the process of making bread.  I highly recommend it.

This recipe is the first one in the book and the first one I tried.  It uses the absolute basics of bread ingredients: flour, yeast, salt and water.  That's it.  It's a very wet dough but the bread it produces is delicious!  Admittedly, it can be a little temperamental.  My first go at it turned out great!  I didn't get a chance to photograph it though as I was literally out the door with it whilst it was still cooling.  I figured I'd just make it again another day and take pictures.  Well, the next two attempts failed miserably.  The bread refused to hold its shape and so rather than a nice ball I ended up with a thick puddle.  I'm pretty sure I over-proved the dough so on my fourth attempt I stuck as close to the resting times as possible.  And finally, I had success again.  Huzzah!

It is delicious.  Nicer than homemade bread I've made before.  It's got a nice crumb and tastes amazing with butter or dipped in soup.  I'm trying to make bread every Friday I'm home for the Hubby's tea.  I'll have to try out some of the other recipes soon.

Recipe - adapted from Brilliant Bread
  • 500g/17.5oz strong white flour
  • 10g/0.35oz salt
  • 7g/0.25g instant yeast
  • 350ml/12fl.oz tepid water
  1. Put the flour in a large bowl.  Add the salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast on the other so they do not touch (salt can kill yeast).  Rub both into the flour with your hands.   
  2. Add the water and mix together until you form a wet dough.  Make sure all flour is incorporated into the dough.
  3. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to rest in a warm place for about 40 minutes.  It should have noticeably increased in size.  (If you can't decide whether it has grown or not, leave it a bit longer).
  4. Keep a small bowl of water handy to wet your fingers.  After resting, wet fingers and slide under the dough and then fold it in half.  Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and do the same again.  Repeat until all the air is removed and the dough feels smooth.  
  5. Cover once more and rest the dough until it has doubled in size (about 1 hour). 
  6. Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface (a dough scraper is really useful here).  Shape into a ball by pinching one end and stretching the dough away from you before folding the stretched bit back into the middle. Turn the dough and repeat.  Keep going until the dough feels tighter.
  7. Flip dough over then cradle it in your hands together underneath the dough.  Twist the dough slightly as you move your hands to start shaping into a ball. Repeat this action until you get a nice tight ball.
  8. Place the dough on a heavily floured surface, cover and allow to prove for an hour (or until doubled in size).  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 210C/410F/Gas Mark 6.5.
  9. Once bread is ready, score a few shallow slashes into the top with a serrated knife.
  10. Bake bread for at least 40 minutes, until the crust starts to turn a deep golden brown.
  11. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving. 

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