425 ml Water (see note 5)
350 g White Bread Flour
350 g Wholemeal Bread Flour
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Powdered Milk
1 Tablespoon Sugar
3 Teaspoons Easy Bake Yeast
1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
1. Weigh out the flours, add to bowl and run fingers through to blend together.
2. Add the salt, powdered milk and sugar and blend though the flour.
3. Add the olive oil and distribute through the mixture.
4. Add the yeast and distribute through the mixture.
5. Make a well in the middle of the mixture and add most of the water. I leave about an inch in the botton of the measuring jug. I do this because flours will vary in absorbency and you do not want the dough to be too wet (or too dry). Many recipes call for warm water, in reality it does not matter. It is worth knowing that a slower rise will improve the flavour of the bread.
6. Mix the ingredients together until you have a slightly sticky mess that will leave the bowl clean. If the dough is too dry add more water. Be careful at this stage as a little can make a big difference.
7. Tip out the dough onto a dry work surface and allow plenty of room. Many recipes call for a floured surface to knead the bread on. I avoid doing this as more flour will be incorporated into the dough making it drier, to the detriment of the finished bread.
8. Knead the dough for a minimum 15 minutes. This is by hand and not machine. Everyone has their own way of doing this, but my way is simply push the dough away from you with the the heel of the hand, fold, and repeat. Try not to shorten the operation as this where the gluten is released which determines the lightness / texture of the bread. I find as you progress with the kneading the mixture will change from a fairly sticky mess to a smooth elastic dough leaving the work surface and your hands clean.
9. Form the dough into a ball, put it back into the mixing bowl cover with cling film and leave aside. Again many recipes call for a warm place. In reality it only needs room temperature. All that can happen is the rise is slower.
10. After an hour or so check the dough and if it has doubled in size it is ready for knocking back.
11. Tip the dough out onto a dry work surface, including the dough stuck to the sides of the bowl.
12. Knocking back sounds violent - it isn't. The trick with knocking back is be gentle. The idea is to preserve some of the hard work already done by the yeast but remove the larger air pockets that may have formed. Simply stretch the dough out trying not to tear it. Then prod it all over with your fingers.
13. Forming the loaf is very important whether you are using tins or making a free form loaf. With dough stretched out on the work surface roll the top to the middle and the bottom to the middle. Then do the same right to left, left to right. The dough should pretty much square. Turn the dough over so the joins are on the uderside. To make a round loaf draw the dough over the work suface towards you. Because the work surface is dry (no flour) there will be traction and the dough will be drawn underneath. Keep doing this turning the dough a 1/8 turn every time until a round loaf is formed.
14. Dust the dough with wheatgerm (optional). Put the dough on a baking tray. Puncture the top of the dough with a knife or slash with a blade. Cover with oiled cling film and leave aside to rise until doubled in size (about an hour or so)
15. Pre-heat the oven to 230 C. The oven I use is a microwave combi fan oven. Perfect size for baking a loaf of bread. Note that all ovens are different so temperature and time settings I advise are not mandatory. Some experimentation with your equipment may be necessary.
16. When the dough is ready, remove the cling film and put the dough in the oven.
17. After 10 minutes lower the oven temperature to 200 C and cook for a further 25 minutes.
18. Remove the bread from the oven and gently tap the bottom. If it is hollow sounding then it is cooked. If not hollow sounding put it back in the oven and check at 5 minute intervals. Put the bread on a rack to cool for around 3/4 of an hour.
19 Slice, lashings of butter, enjoy.