Everybody should make a classic white loaf at least once in their lifetime. It’s great being able to make such a necessary food that is normally bought at the supermarket. Well after this, supermarket bread will be no more! Fresh home-made bread beats it any day. This recipe is from the Fabulous Baker Brothers series that has just finished on channel 4 which I tried out recently – with success! Unfortunately that was before I began this blog and so I am short of photos – apart from the end product. So you’ll have to make do with my literal descriptions instead. Sorry!
Classic white loaf, makes one large loaf or two small loaves
-560g strong white bread flour, the best you can get
-10g sea salt
-20ml rapeseed oil (any plant based oil such as sunflower or vegetable will do)
-5g dried yeast
-300ml warm water
Make sure you have a clean surface to start with. I normally wipe it with a damp cloth and then dry with a paper towel. Then measure the flour and salt and place in the middle of the work surface. Make a hole in the middle so that it is almost a small well with the flour surrounding it.
In a small jug, mix the yeast with warm water until dissolved. Pour this mixture into the well and gradually mix a little more flour into it until all the flour is bound with the water. It should be really sticky at this point. Drizzle the oil and continue mixing by hand, forming it into a dough. Flour the surface as needed and knead for 20 minutes. Kneading allows air to get into the dough making it soft and springy when eaten. It also enables the gluten in the starchy flour to be stretched out creating an elastic-like texture. The kneading is crucial to baking really great bread – so stick at it!
Shape the dough into a ball shape and place in a oiled/floured bowl to stop it from sticking. Dust the top with a little flour and leave in a warm place to double in size. Cover with cling-film or an elasticated shower-cap. This should take an hour or so.
Carefully scrape the dough out, which should feel springy. Shape to fit your well-oiled loaf tin. Dust with more flour and slash diagonally.
The loaf (or loaves) need to bake at 240 degrees Celsius at first for 10 minutes. Then lower slightly to 210 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes. (Bear in mind that two small loaves will cook slightly faster than one larger loaf.) To check that your loaf is cooked, slide out of tin and gently tap the bottom. It should sound hollow. Et, voila! Slice and serve up with your favourite sandwich filling.
You could also make round rolls if you wanted a great individual bread that goes well with soup starters. I’m on a mission to make some healthier wholemeal bread next, so keep your eyes peeled for the next bread post!