This is my easy-peasy standard white loaf recipe which can be adapted by adding all sorts of bits and pieces. My favourite variations are poppy seed, sunflower and pumpkin seed, cheddar and rosemary, sundried tomato and olive, dried fruit and mixed peel… you get the picture.
1 lb strong white bread flour
1 pkt fast action dried yeast
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
300ml warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
Mix the flour, salt and sugar together first and then mix in the yeast (you don’t want the yeast to sit directly on the salt) and pop it the bowl of an electric mixer with the dough hook attached. Add the water and olive oil and mix on a low setting for 10 mins. Alternatively you can roll up your sleeves, get your hands in and knead like crazy for approximately the same length of time.
Once the dough is smooth – it should be elastic, a bit sticky and sort of translucent when you thin a bit between your fingers – pop it back in the bowl and cover with cling film or a damp tea towel and stash it in a warm place like a window sill or airing cupboard. Alternatively, pop it in the fridge overnight for a long slow rise. I like to put mine in this jug so that I can clearly see when it’s risen.
Yup, that’s definitely risen.
Pop it out on the work top and press the air out of it, knead it lightly incorporating any extra ingredients and gather into a tight round or oblong.
Put it on a lightly-greased baking tray and slash the top a couple of times with a sharp knife so it can expand easily. It’ll take between one to two hours depending on the room temperature but once it’s risen again and is sluggish to spring back when you press your finger on it, it’s ready to bake.
Into the oven at about 220c for 25 – 30 mins.
Yum, yum, yum!
If you want a soft crust, rub it with some butter as soon as it comes out the oven. If you prefer a really crunchy one, spray the inside of the oven with a bit of water just before you put the loaf in and shut the door.
You can divide it into rolls, plaits, sticks – whatever takes your fancy.
What are your favourite additions?