White bread

White bread

By
From
How to Cook Bread
Makes
1 small loaf
Photographer
Peter Cassidy

You will need a 450–500g loaf tin.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
250g strong white flour, plus extra to dust
1 teaspoon salt
15-20g salted butter or sunflower oil, plus oil to grease
100-150ml tepid water
10g fresh yeast
1 egg, to glaze (optional)

Method

  1. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Rub in the butter, if using, with your fingertips. In a small bowl, mix 2 tbsp of the tepid water with the yeast, to create a loose paste. Add the yeast to the flour, splash a little more of the water into the yeast bowl, swirl it around and pour into the flour to ensure no yeast is lost. Add three quarters of the remaining water, with the oil if using, and mix using a cutlery knife to distribute the water.
  2. Add the remaining water, if necessary. It is important that there is enough water to make a soft dough, so feel it. If not enough water is added, the dough will be dry and firm, difficult to knead and will make a dry loaf. The dough should be tacky, but not too sticky to work with.
  3. Knead the dough on the work surface for 5–8 minutes, using the bottom of the palm of one hand to push the dough away from you diagonally, then rolling it back with the fingertips of the same hand. Repeat with the other hand, so the dough is moving diagonally in front of you, alternating between hands. Avoid adding flour even if the dough sticks to the surface a little; only sprinkle it with flour if it is very sticky and making kneading difficult.
  4. After about 5 minutes of kneading, shape the dough in your hands, creating a smooth, fairly taut surface, and press it with your finger. If it bounces at least three quarters of the way back and shows some elasticity, it will have been kneaded sufficiently. If it doesn’t bounce back or only a very little, it requires more kneading.
  5. Place the kneaded dough in a very lightly oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled cling film or a damp tea towel and place in a warm (but not hot), draught-free place for about 1 hour, to rise and double in size. Lightly oil the loaf tin.
  6. Once doubled in size, remove the dough from the bowl and knock it back, by kneading for 2–3 minutes in the same way as before, to break down and distribute all the large bubbles created by the yeast during rising.
  7. Shape the dough by pulling it around on itself to create a smooth, taut surface and roll it a little, smooth side down, on the work surface. Place it neatly, smooth side uppermost, in the prepared loaf tin and cover with lightly oiled cling film. Prove the dough (allow it to rise again) by at least half its size again. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C.
  8. After about 30 minutes, check the dough: it is ready to bake when it is lightly pressed and the indentation remains, springing back only a little. If it springs back fully then continue to prove for longer. If using an egg glaze, lightly beat the egg, using a fork, then sieve it.
  9. Brush the loaf gently with the egg glaze or dust with flour and bake in the top third of the oven for 25–30 minutes. Open the oven door when the bread smells cooked; it should be golden. Remove the bread and invert from the tin using oven gloves. It should feel light, and when tapped on the underside should sound hollow. If not, return the loaf to the tin and oven and continue to cook a little longer. Allow the cooked loaf to cool completely on a wire rack.
Tags:
bread
Leiths
baking
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