Discovering what was in a standard supermarket sliced pan shocked me enough to start experimenting with bread recipes and find the perfect loaf for my family. The more I know what I am feeding my kids the better. The following is a recipe for a simple white loaf I make every day including some tips I picked up while learning about bread.
- Prep Time: 4 H
- Cook time: 1 H
- Yield: 1 loaf/boule
- 567g Strong White Flour (bread flour)
- 1 teaspoon Quick Yeast
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 1 tablespoon Sugar (optional)
- 20ml Olive Oil
- 320ml Luke Warm Water
I use an electric mixer with a dough hook but you can do it all by hand if you so wish
- Measure 567g Strong White Flour into a bowl
- Add the salt, sugar and yeast and give it a quick mix with a fork to distribute the dry ingredients.
- Add olive oil and then the water to mixture
- Turn your mixer on low and leave to knead for about 8 minutes.
- Take it out and knead the last 2 minutes by hand until dough is smooth and elastic and really to get a feel for your dough.
- Shape it into a ball and put back into the mixing bowl.
- Cover with a stiff plastic bag and allow to rise 2-4 hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
- When double in size remove/scrape from bowl and stretch the dough to form a rough rectangle about the size of an average chopping board.
- Fold the dough down towards you to middle and then fold up the bottom edge over the edge so you have a long baton.
- Fold again right over middle and then back on itself from the left. Roughly turn in your hands and press down seams as you go.
- I do this quite roughly as I like the dough to expand and create its own shape and also means I don’t have to slash the dough before going into the oven which I have had little success with.
- Spray or lightly brush the bottom of your pot with some oil.
- Put dough into middle, cover and leave for 1 hour until dough has nicely expanding at least double its size again.
- Brush dough with some olive oil and sprinkle on some sea salt (optional)
- Pop into hot oven 210C (Fan) for 30 minutes
- Turn down heat to 180C(Fan) and remove lid
- Cook for a further 20-30 minutes.
- Remove from pot and leave to cool on wire rack or up on the gas hobs as I do
Bread flour has high gluten so perfect for bread but you can also use cake flour if you wish. Most no-knead recipes you find out there use plain flour. I find the taste completely different and feel it takes away from the savoury profile of the bread. You can use almost any wheat flour. Lots of alternative sin health food shops available while in the supermarkets there are usually only Hovis or Odlums Strong Flour available. I prefer the later as have had more success with it and comes in a bigger bag.
I use Instant Dry Yeast as it doesn’t have a coating of inactive yeast coating it and as a result works a little faster and you need less of it. If I’m stuck I’ll use the own brand sachets from the supermarket but my preferred yeast is Doves Farm Quick Yeast
Its basically there for the flavour. It does however slow down the yeast activity slightly but should be included as a standard basic
Yeast feeds off sugar and produces the Carbon Dioxide. There is already some sugar available in flour, which feeds the yeast. So if you don’t wish to include extra sugar then that’s okay - the yeast will have enough to to get on with from the flour. The rising times will just be a tad longer.
Oil in small quantity will add to the flavour profile, tenderize the crumb, soften the crust some the bread will keep a bit longer.
Don’t flour your work surface. The ratio of flour to liquid in this dough means you will never have to flour your work surface when kneading. Just keep working the dough and it will eventually come together. Clean up is also minimal.
I don’t bother coating my bowl in olive oil for proving. Seems like a waste to me since I scrape and knock back the dough after first proving and brush with oil just before putting it in oven.
Save your pennies on cling film and just use a strong plastic shopping bag. Wrap the bowl in this and the bag will keep its shape and not stick to dough. Alternatively use a shower cap.
My perfect combination of tools I could not live without is a digital scales, an electric mixer with dough hook and a Dutch Oven. The Dutch Oven is basically a large pot. It traps moisture released cooking the dough, mimicking the commercial steam ovens. If you are lucky enough to have a huge Le Creuset then use that as it’s perfect. I found a large non-stick cast aluminium pot for less than €50 in Hallisseys of Kenmare but have since seen them in other hardware shops which carry a small kitchen range. That black spot you can see on the lid in the pic below is a manufacturers hole I covered up with some flour and water paste to get a complete seal. Full name of pot is the Culinary Pro by Pilot - Cast Aluminium Casserole/Stockpot