This is our go-to bread recipe. Although it takes a while, as all proper homemade loaves do, it's very straightforward and never goes wrong. Sometimes we just use white flour, other times we mix it up by adding a bit of wholemeal. The only problem with making fresh bread is that it seems to disappear very soon after it leaves the oven...
- 500g strong white bread flour (or use a combination of white and wholemeal bread flour, eg. 100g of wholemeal/400g white).
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 7g sachet fast-action yeast
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 300ml lukewarm water
1. Make the dough by hand or electric mixer. Put the flour, yeast, salt, oil and water into a large mixing bowl.
2. Mix the ingredients together by hand or using the mixer. Keep mixing until it comes together to a soft dough. Add a splash of water if too dry, a sprinkle of flour if too wet. Shape into a ball.
3. Knead by hand for 5 - 10 minutes or for five minutes using the mixer until soft and smooth.
4. Put the dough into a bowl and leave it to rise (prove) in a warm place for about an hour. It should double in size.
5. Flour a surface and knock the dough with the heel of your hands to get the air out of it.
6. Shape your loaf as you like - we usually make a classic bloomer shape (a large oval).
7. Put the dough on a large lined baking tray and cover with a clean tea towel, then leave in a warm place again for about an hour. It should have doubled in size.
8. Pre-heat the oven to 220c (200c fan) or gas 7.
9. When it's ready, dust the top with a little flour if you like, and slask with a knife for a professional look.
10. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 200c/180c/gas 6 and bake for a further 10 - 20 minutes until brown with a golden crust. We like to take it off the tray for the final 10 minutes so the base is crisp.
11. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Try not to eat the whole loaf at once!
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