This is the recipe that got me to ditch the bread maker and make my bread by hand. Thanks Nigel Slater! No mystery or complicated processes, just a delicious, crusty white loaf that smelled and tasted glorious.
1kg strong white bread flour
14g instant dried yeast
700ml approx of tepid water
Take a large mixing bowl and tip in the flour, yeast and salt. I always put the salt in first, then the salt and finally the yeast which at this point should be kept sperate from the salt. Pour in almost all of the water and mix it to a sticky dough. Keep mixing for a minute or two - the dough will gradually become less sticky - then add a little more flour until you have a dough that is soft and springy but still slightly sticky to the touch.
Generously flour a work surface and scoop the dough out onto it. Work the dough with your hands , pushing it flat with your palms, then folding the far edge towards you pushing it back into the dough with the heel of your hand. Continue pushing and folding the dough, working firmly but gently. It should feel, soft and springy by the time you finish - it will take about 10 minutes. If you find it exhausting, you are pushing the dough too hard. Place the ball of dough back in the (lightly oiled) bowl and cover with cling film or a damp tea towel. Rest it somewhere warm, but not hot, for about an hour or so until the dough has doubled in size.
Tip the dough back onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it getly again for a couple of minutes. Shape the dough into a smooth ball and place it on the centre of a floured baking sheet - cover with oiled cling film or a damp tea towel and return it to its warm place to rise again - this is the part known as 'proving'. Set the oven to 250 degrees centigrade or gas mark 9. After an hour or so the dough will have spread, and somewhat alrmingly! Very gently tuck it back into a neat, high ball, then place it softly in the oven and carefully close the door. Leave the loaf to bake for ten minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 220C/Gas7. After 25-30 minutes you can check to see if the loaf is done. It should sound hollow when you tap the bottom. If it doesn't and appears a little soft still, pop it back for another 5-10 minutes and check it again. Let the loaf cool on a wire rack and leave it for at least an hour before cutting into it. Remeber the cooling part is still part of the cooking with bread.
The picture I've uploaded is me smiling, holding that first loaf which unfortunately you can't see. Trust me, it's there!
Added by: Chris Boarland
We are beyond excited to announce the launch our first cookbook with Headline Publishing.
“A Handful Of Flour” explores a myriad of flours and their different flavours, in a selection of well-worked classic recipes with a fresh and contemporary twist.
More than just a baking book, this is a book to introduce you to cooking with flour in general, from popular and classic varieties to ancient grains and gluten free flours.