Saturday, 6 April 2013

Homemade White Loaf

Bread is one of life’s scrumptious staple foods.  The simple combination of bread smeared in butter or gently dipped in a good olive oil proves that food doesn't have to be complicated to delight any gourmet’s taste buds.  As a child I remember thinking that Edmund from the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe could have suffered far more distasteful combinations than bread and water in his punishment under the White Witch’s wrath.  This traditional loaf has a soft and fluffy centre, a thick crust and is at its most delicious straight out the oven.

Makes 1 large loaf

- 675g strong white, granary or wholemeal flour
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 20g butter
- 20g fresh yeast
- 450ml water, lukewarm

Preheat the oven to 220ºC (200ºC fan oven)

1. Grease the loaf tins or the baking tray.
2. Measure the flour into a large bowl, add the salt and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
3. Make a well in the centre, crumble in the fresh yeast and then pour in the water.
4. Mix by hand and knead into a ball in the bowl.
5. Turn out onto a clean, lightly oiled surface (this will stop the dough from sticking) and knead for approximately 4 minutes (brown bread will not require as long).  Return the dough to the bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm environment for around 1-1 1/2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.
6. Knock back the dough and knead again for 2-3 minutes then either divide into tins or place onto the baking tray.  Cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave to prove for around 30 minutes.
7. Remove the cling film and slide the bread into the preheated oven.  To give the bread a thick crust place a tray of boiling water in the bottom of the oven to create steam.
8. Bake the loaf for approximately 30 minutes until evenly browned and a hollow sound is made when the loaf is knocked on the base.    

(this recipe has been adapted from Mary Berry's Aga Cookbook)

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