Sunday, 20 April 2014

White Loaf.

I don't think I can remember the last time I baked bread by hand. Sure, it's easy enough to dump a mix in the bread maker with some water and olive oil and pass the loaf off as 'homemade' but there's nothing quite like nurturing a ball of dough for hours while it rises and proves. So, to get back into baking bread, I started off by making a simple white tin loaf from a recipe in my favourite book, Paul Hollywood 'How to Bake'. However, I'd forgotten how great homemade bread tasted and, with the help of my mother, I managed to eat the whole loaf in a day.

You'll need:

400g strong white bread flour
7g instant yeast
8g salt
25g unsalted butter
250ml cold water

How to make it:

1. Put the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl ensuring the yeast and salt remain separate.
2. Add the butter and some of the water and mix with your hands.
3. Continue to add the water until it forms a dough and all of the ingredients have been incorporated.
4. Knead on a lightly oiled surface until the dough is soft and smooth but also shows elasticity.
5. Leave in a lightly oiled bowl to prove for around 1 hour - it needs to double in size.
6. Remove the dough from the bowl and begin to knock it back on a lightly floured surface.
7. Roll it into an oblong and shape to fit your tin.
8. Put the dough in the tin and put it in a plastic bag to rise for a further hour before baking for 30 minutes on 220˚C.

An optional step is to create a steam environment in the oven. To do this, put a roasting tin in the oven whilst it is preheating. Then, just before you put the dough in to bake, fill the roasting tin with boiling water. This will help to make the crust crisp and give it a slight sheen.

The next day I decided to bake again. This time I was a little more adventurous (as suggested by Paul) and made a white cob loaf. The recipe was virtually the same and so was the baking process, it was simply shaped and baked on a baking sheet instead of in a tin. Instead of the above ingredients I used 500g flour, 10g instant yeast, 10g salt, 30g unsalted butter and 320ml cold water. To create the shapes on top I simply sliced into the dough a little.

I think it turned out like a little hedgehog which is quite cute. Also, it somehow tasted even better than the previous loaf - it was a lot softer and I presume this is all down to how well you prove it. It just happened to be a lot warmer in my house so it rose more when proving.

Happy Easter!
Cakesfordorothy xoxo


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