There is nothing that I enjoy more then the smell of freshly baked goodies, especially bread! The next best thing is to break off a piece of freshly baked bread….add lashings of butter and some jam, its pretty close to heavenly as heavenly gets!
In quest to replicate this feeling in my own home, I decided to bake a loaf of bread for the very first time! Having never baked bread of any sort. I always assumed it would be a lot harder and complicated then it really is.
After Youtube’ing a few Paul Hollywood clips and digging through my The Women’s Institute big book of baking ( fantastic book!) I found the perfect recipe to try my hand at bread baking.
This recipe makes one loaf. Preparation time is 20 minutes +proving+ 30-35 minutes baking.
You need the following:
450g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1teaspoon fast action dried yeast
300ml hand hot water
I used a stand mixer rather then mixing and kneading the dough by hand.
1.Put the flour and butter in the bowl of the stand mixed with the dough hook attachment. Let the butter mix into the flour. Stir in the sugar, salt and yeast. Pour the water in the middle all at once. Turn on the mixer, mix to ensure that all the ingredients are well incorporated.
2. Turn off the mixer, scrap the sides of the bowl to ensure that flour is incorporated in the dough. Turn on the dough and knead till the dough loses its “craggy” appearance and takes a silky smoothness.
3. I covered the dough with a clean dish tower and placed it in a warm place to prove. Or you can place it in a well oiled large polythene bag and seal. Both methods work just as well. The proving can take up to an hour or until it has doubled in size. This really depends on how warm the area where the dough placed is.
4. I did not use a loaf tin(900g/2lb) as recommended in the book. Instead I used a baking sheet. Greased it lightly and sprinkled some semolina to prevent the bread from sticking to the baking sheet.
5.Knock back the dough for 2-3 minutes, making sure that all the air is dispelled. Shape into an oblong by putting both hands under the piece of dough furthest away and bringing it towards you, folding it over the dough. Push down to seal the edge nearest to you. Give the Dough a quarter turn and repeat until you have a smooth-shaped oblong. place in the prepared tin/ sheet seam down. Cover and leave to prove until doubled in size about 45 minutes.
6.Preheat the oven to Gas mark 8/230C/ 450F
7.Using a very sharp knife, make a 1cm deep cut down the centre of the loaf. Dust liberally with flour.
8. Bake for 30-35 minutes. If your baking tin is high and short, place the loaf one shelf below the centre of the oven. Longer, shallower loaf tins should be baked on the middle shelf.
9. Remove the bread from the tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool. The loaf should sound hollow on the bottom when tapped. If not place the break back in the oven for a few more minutes.
Once the bread has cooled down for a few minutes, slice a piece and enjoy with butter and jam or cheese the possibilities are endless.
This is a brilliant base recipe to develop you own sweet or savoury loaves by adding different ingredients.