500 g organic Shipton Mill Strong White Flour (or combination of 80% white and 20% spelt)
10 g salt
10 g Fermipan
125 g bubbly leaven that passes the float test
35 g organic butter, melted
60 g organic whole milk
55 g egg, whole free range (1 x large)
*150 g water (de-chlorinated)
*The water and all other liquids added together equal 300 g, i.e. Baker's Percentage of 60% hydration, which makes for a fairly stiff dough. This stiffness is necessary to be able to roll the three strands on a flour-free workbench so that they do not collapse with the firm downward and outward pressure exerted when rolling.
eggwash - 1 x egg yolk and 1 Tablespoon milk, plus mixed seeds of your choice
Bake: 210 degrees C for about 25 minutes, but check after 18 minutes and cover or turn if necessary. Because it is enriched, it has a tendency to burn easily.
Yield: 1 x large loaf
No steam is necessary if it is eggwashed twice before being loaded into the oven. Apply the eggwash gently and evenly and do not allow it to pool around the base of the plait. There is no need to cover the plait if the room is warm, draught-free and humid.
Method: Using a long-handled wooden spoon, mix the dry ingredients and stir after each one is added. Add all liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients without mixing in between each addition, then stir until everything is smoothly incorporated and the bowl is clean. Change from a long-handled wooden spoon to a curved benchscraper to scrape the bowl clean. Knead until silky smooth - about 10 minutes - using a 'rock and roll' method. Shape into a boule and cover until it has doubled in size. Scale into 3 equal pieces and roll into strands 40 cm long, all of equal length. If the strands resist and seem too elastic, allow them to rest for 5 minutes, then resume rolling. Plait. Place on silicone paper on a baking tray and apply eggwash. Be patient and allow to rise to almost double in size. Eggwash again.
Bake until burnished brown and it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cover the top loosely with foil if it is browning too quickly. Cool completely on a wire rack. Makes beautiful toast or, if there is any left, French toast with maple syrup... or bread pudding with pistachios and dates... or flecks of dried apricots with toasted almonds.