There are probably 1000001 different recipes for making bread on the internet so I’m not really sure why I’m adding to the list. I can’t remember exactly where this one was derived as they’re much of a muchness, at least the simple stuff is.
Seriously, if you’ve never tried to make your own bread, you need to give it a go. You won’t be disappointed. I use the dough hook on my mixer but you can quite easily bring the dough together by hand, it just takes a little more effort. The actual kneading will be done by hand – think of it as a workout to use up in advance the calories you’ll be taking in with slabs of jam-smothered bread!
Simple White Loaf
- 500 g Strong White Flour (for bread making)
- 14 g Fast Action Dried Yeast
- 10 g Salt
- 340 ml Cold Water
- In a mixing bowl place the salt in first, then the flour, then the yeast on top. It is important that the yeast and salt are kept apart as the salt will damage the yeast and the bread may not rise.
- Pour on the water and start to mix the ingredients together. To begin with the mixture will be a sticky mess (as will be your hands if you're mixing by hand) but keep kneading it together and the mixture will come together as a smooth ball after 5-10 minutes depending on whether this is a machine or your hands working.
- Once the dough has come together, lightly flour a clean work surface and scoop out the dough onto the flour.
- Now it is time to knead the dough to continue to build up the gluten which makes the dough stretchy. I use my hands to flatten the dough out, and then stretch it out and fold it back on itself. As you continue to do this (10 minutes roughly) the dough will become stretchier and smoother.
- Place the dough back into the bowl and cover it with cling film. Leave it in a warm place for about an hour or until it has doubled in size. This is the first 'prove'.
- Turn the dough back out onto a floured work surface and flatten it. The yeast will have expanded throughout the dough and will make more air pockets in the second prove. Fold and stretch the dough before shaping it into the final shape that you want , be it a bloomer, a number of individual rolls, a plaited masterpiece etc, and place onto a baking tray, covered in baking paper.
- If you are making a bloomer, with a sharp knife score a number of lines across the dough, about 1cm deep. This will help the dough to expand lengthways and to create that familiar ridged look.
- Cover the dough again with cling film (give it room to rise) and leave in a warm place until roughly doubled in size.
- Pre-heat oven to about 180 Celcius and place a tray of water on the base of the oven. This creates steam which helps to give a crisper crust to the bread.
- Remove cling film and bake the bread for 30-40 minutes keeping an eye to ensure it is not burning. A quick method to test that the bread is cooked is to carefully lift the bread off the baking tray and tap it's underside. If it sounds hollow then the bread is baked.
- Allow to cool before eating!