This was the first ever time I’ve made bread, so the result was always going to be a bit touch and go.
I’m happy though. The bread was a little under-worked and doughy in the middle but for a first attempt I’m not too disheartened.
I was particularly timid about over-working the dough (only to read later that it is actually quite difficult to over-work dough). It tasted absolutely incredible an hour or so after it came out of the oven – it was crusty, warm and fresh.
Because it was 11.30 pm by the time the loaf was cooled slightly, I rushed putting it into a tin before going to bed. Unfortunately this meant that that crunch you get when you cut into it had disappeared a little. Luckily the texture of the loaf wasn’t too affected. We enjoyed it for lunch Easter Sunday; a lovely treat for a long weekend! I would particularly recommend it with some Boursin.
My main comment then would be to make the loaf in the morning to give it plenty of time to cool before storing it.
500g Strong White Bread Flour (plus extra for dusting)
40g Unsalted Butter, Softened and cut up
12g Quick Yeast
2 tsp Salt
Roughly 300ml Warm Water (Room temp, so I would get a jug of water and leave it out whilst you are preparing the other ingredients)
1 tsp Vegetable or Olive Oil
1.) First, mix the flour with the butter in a large bowl with a spoon. Now, in an attempt to quickly soften my butter, I popped it in the microwave. So in the end I added melted butter to the flour before mixing. It was on 750 Watts for about 60 seconds so wasn’t hot when I added it – just as well otherwise I probably would have killed the yeast in the next stage.
2.) Add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to another. Don’t let them mix yet…it won’t end well!
3.) Add about half the water to the bowl and turn the mix with your fingers. Keep adding a little water bit by bit. You want dough which is soft- not too sticky. All the flour should be incorporated and the mix should clean out the bowl.
4.) When ready, lightly oil a clean surface, making sure you have plenty of room!
5.) Turn the dough out on to the prepared surface and start kneading!
- Firstly, you want to lightly coat the dough in the oil. Take one edge of the dough and fold it into the middle. Turn 90* and repeat.
- Once the dough is lightly oiled it’s time to knead. Fix one end of the dough to the surface of the work bench with the knuckles of your hand and take the other end to stretch it out away from you.
- Then fold the dough a third of the way back, and then fold it in again to meet your hand which is fixing the dough to the bench.
- Turn the dough 90* and repeat. Keep going for about 5 minutes until you have smooth, stretchy dough.
6.) When the dough is ready, put it in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or a lightly oiled cling film.
7.) Leave the dough for about an hour, so it has time to double in size. Some recipes tell you to put it somewhere warm, but I just left it in my kitchen and it seemed fine.
8.) In the meantime, prepare a baking tray with baking parchment.
9.) An hour later, the dough should be double in size and smooth and shiny.
10.) Lightly flour the work surface and knock the air out of the dough. Knead again for 5 mins (I think this was where I under-worked the dough).
11.) Start shaping. Cup the dough in your hands and lightly put pressure into the base with your fingers. Twist the dough and shape with your cupped hands. You should see a small dip on the base of the loaf when it is shaped.
12.) Place dough on baking tray and leave for a further hour until it has doubled in size again.
13.) Pre- heat the oven to 220*C and place an old roasting tray on the bottom shelf.
14.) Once the loaf has been left to prove for a second time, gently rub in flour to the surface of the dough and score with a sharp knife. Create a diamond pattern from cuts about 1cm deep. This helps you control the direction in which the loaf will rise in the oven.
15.) Finally, place the loaf in the oven on a middle shelf and fill the roasting tray with cool water.
16.) Bake for around 30 minutes, or until the loaf is golden.