They say the simple things in life are the best, never is the more true than with my recipe for a crusty white loaf of bread. Big chunks of it go great with a nice bowl of soup, or slice it thick and sandwich bacon and sausage between it. The best bit is the recipe is simple, and while it needs a couple of hours to be ready, you don’t need to be in the kitchen the whole time.
The following is enough to produce an 800g loaf:
- 500g Strong White Bread Flour
- 25g Unsalted Butter
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 sachet dried yeast
- 320ml Warm water
- Sift the flour into your mixing bowl. If you have an electric mixer, use its bowl for this.
- Add the sugar, salt, and yeast to the warm water, stir well until all of the yeast has dissolved.
- Add the butter to the flour.
- Rub the flour into the butter until there is none left.
- Begin mixing in the water into the flour. If using an electric mixer, keep working until it all begins to pull together using dough hooks at a low speed.
- Tip the bowl out onto your work surface. There will be a combination of wet dough, crumbs, and flour.
- Begin working the flour and crumbs into the dough. The technique of folding the dough in half, stretching it using your palm pushing it into the work surface, turning the now flattened ball 90 degrees and repeating is the best way I have found to knead bread dough. You should do this for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Return the dough ball to the mixing bowl and cover it with cling film. Leave the dough for 45 minutes to 1 hour in a warm place to rise.
- When the dough has risen to about twice it’s original size, empty it back onto the work surface. Knock it down by kneading it for 2-3 minutes.
- Shape the dough into the form you want your bread to come out as. This can be a ball, baguette, rolls, or in a loaf tin. The dough should be placed on a sheet of greaseproof paper on a wire baking tray. A pizza stone can be used if you prefer a softer crusted base.
- Cover your dough with cling film and leave for 45 minutes to 1 hour to rise again. While this is happening, pre heat an oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
- When the dough has risen again, carefully remove the cling film, taking care not to knock the dough down.
- Put the bread in the oven for 30-35 minutes, ensuring you leave room for it to rise further
- When done, the crust should be golden in colour and when tapped, should sound hollow. Allow it to cool for 15-20 minutes before slicing it.
Because there are no preservatives in the bread, once sliced it will begin to go hard within a few hours of cutting. The great thing about this is that it seals the rest of the bread, keeping it moist. When you want to eat a bit more, you slice the end off and the bread is good again. In this way, a loaf will last 2-3 days.