Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A simple white loaf

Ingredients

  • 800g strong white bread flour
  • 14g fresh yeast or 7g sachet dried yeast or 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 550ml water at 30C/85F
  • 2x1kg bread tins greased with butter or lard (or dairy free alternative)

Method

Place the flour in a large bowl and, if using fast-action dried yeast, stir in the salt thoroughly before adding the fast-action dried yeast

If using fresh yeast or dried yeast, in a small bowl, wet the yeast with a little warm water and stir it ot a cream. Add the remaining water, then add this mixture to the flour. Mix well together.

Tip the mixture onto a clean worktop. Knead for 10-15 minutes until the dough is shiny and elastic. Don't worry if it sticks to your hands initially; just keep cleaning them with a plastic scraper. try  not to add a significant quantity of extra flour to prevent the dough from sticking - this will only make the dough firm up and dry slightly.

Put the dough back in the bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave the dough to rise at a warm, but not hot, room temperature for 1-2 hours until it has doubled in size.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured worktop and knead it for 2-3 minutes to even it out. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Knead each lightly to form a cylinder that has a crease at its base. Place in the tins crease down and cover them with a damp tea towel. Leave the loaves to rise at the same warm room temperature for 45-60 minutes until they have doubled in size -- this will be when the dough just mounds over the rim of the tins by 1-2 cm.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7 and adjust the shelves so that the loaves have room to rise.

When  the oven is hot, remove the tea towel and sprinkle the loaves with a little flour. Carefully slice a shallow groove along the centre of each loaf. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then turn the loaves around so that they cook evenly. Reduce the temperature to 180c/350F/gas 4 and bake for a further 20-25 minutes

The loaves are ready if they sound hollow when tapped on the base

Turn the loaves out onto a wire rack and allow them to cool fully before using.

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