I love freshly baked bread, who doesn’t? There is just simply nothing else like the smell of bread baking and its warm, homely aroma when just out of the oven and best of all a chunky warm slice smeared with butter.
I used to be scared of making bread. I don’t really know why, I’d never made bread before so really had nothing to be scared of. In fact, I think that there was it, the fear of the unknown. I think also, its the impression that making bread equals hours of hard labour and kneading until your hands blister.
It’s really not the case.
With this recipe, in under 2 hours (with an hour and a half of that just rising and baking so no work for you!), you will have a perfectly, risen, plump, loaf, with a softly crisp crust and a beautiful, soft, doughy interior.
I made this bread pictured on Sunday and we finished the last of it this evening and it was still lovely. It can also be frozen and even if it is left to go a little stale, it”ll still make great toast or fresh breadcrumbs, or even bread pudding!
This is the best bread I have ever had and yet the easiest recipe!
Ingredients: Makes 10 slices
500g strong plain flour
7g sachet fast action/easy blend dried yeast
1/2 tbsp salt
1tbsp sunflower or olive oil
350ml water made up of half boiling and half cold
1/2 tbsp soya milk or flour to glaze/dust
- Mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt together in a large bowl with a whisk or spoon
- Make a well in the centre and pour in the oil, followed by 300ml of the water
- Stir together to get a smooth, not sticky dough, adding the remaining water if necessary (All flours absorb different amounts of liquid so it will vary). If the dough gets too sticky sprinkle with a bit of flour to get the smoothness back.
- Don’t be afraid to get your hands in to mix (dusted with flour), you will get a better even mix using hands and will realise that what you thought was overly sticky dough actually isn’t once properly combined!
- Knead the dough for ten minutes by hand or in a mixer with a dough hook on a medium speed until the dough is smooth, elastic and springy when gently pressed with a finger.
- Cover the bowl with oiled clingfilm or a damp, clean tea towel and leave to rise for half an hour.
- After 30 minutes rising time, preheat the oven to 200c,400f,gas 6 and lightly grease a 2lb loaf tin.
- Punch down the dough and shape into the loaf tin and cover with loose, oiled clingfilm or a damp, clean tea towel again.
- Leave to rise for 40 minutes.
- After 40 minutes rising, remove the clingfilm or tea towel and top with chosen glaze;
- Brush with milk for a soft crusty top (as in photographs)
- Dust lightly with flour for a soft top
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, first insert a thin skewer into the centre, like a cocktail stick, and check that it comes out clean. If it doesn’t return to the oven for 5 minutes at a time until a skewer comes out clean. If it comes out clean, remove from the tin and tap the underside with your knuckles – if it sounds hollow, its ready.
- For an all round crispy crust, remove the loaf from its tin and return to the oven upside down for the last 5 minutes of baking.
- You can replace the white flour with wholemeal flour in this recipe – you may need to add more water but still start at 300ml and add gradually as needed.