Cracklin’ bread

Cracklin’ bread

By
From
Deep South
Makes
2 loaves
Photographer
Andy Sewell

An adaptation of a recipe by Edna Lewis, a Southern cook who made a name for herself in the 1970s, this crusty white loaf brings back memories of freshly baked bread at family holiday gatherings. It’s the perfect sandwich bread, but should be eaten on the day it is made. Keep any leftovers covered and serve as thick slices of toast.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1kg strong bread flour
60g pork lard
2 eggs
240ml milk
15g salt
60g see method for ingredients

For the sponge:

Quantity Ingredient
180g cooked diced potato
15g fresh yeast
60g strong bread flour
50g caster sugar
240ml warm water

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients for the sponge in a food processor and blend to a smooth paste. Leave for about an hour, until doubled in size.
  2. Put the flour into a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and rub in the lard. Add the eggs, milk and the sponge and mix to a dough, adding more flour if the mixture is too wet. Continue to mix on low speed for 5 minutes. Add the salt and crackling, raise the speed to medium and mix for 5 minutes longer, until smooth and elastic. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave for 1½–2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
  3. Turn the dough out on to a work surface and knead briefly to knock out the air. Divide in half and shape each piece to fit a greased 500g loaf tin. Cover with cling film and leave to prove again until doubled in size. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 220°C. Put a baking tray in the bottom to heat up.
  4. Remove the cling film from the risen loaves and place in the centre of the oven to bake. Pour a cup of water into the baking tray at the bottom of the oven. Retaining moisture in this way helps with the oven lift of the loaf as well as the colouring: as the evaporating steam hits the bread, it will bring more of the sugars to the surface, resulting in a natural shine, deeper caramelisation and more flavour.
  5. Bake for 20–25 minutes, until the loaves are a deep brown colour and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from the tins and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Tags:
American
Southern cooking
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