Baking has never really been my thing. It always seemed to take longer than I would be prepared to wait. Steak in six minutes or fish in four, that was more me. But… but…the smell of bread baking is one of those aromas that just says welcome home. Anyway, I began to wonder if I could bake bread, and was there a quicker way of doing it than what seemed to be such a long kneading…waiting…proving…kneading..waiting….process. Well, I searched around seeing eight or nine different recipes and this is a combination of those. It works. It is lovely, holds firm to cold butter, makes great toast. I have decided I can now.. Bake!
- 400gm Wholemeal flour
- 100gms white bread flour
- 40gms butter
- 2 large teaspoons dried fast acting yeast
- teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar (preferably brown)
- 320ml tepid water
Add the flour to a large mixing bowl. Put the butter into the bowl and rub until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.
- To one side of the mixture put the sugar and salt. On the other side put the yeast. Make a well in the centre and add half of the water, then begin to mix in the flour mixture. Gradually add more water so that all the flour is taken off the sides, a dough is formed leaving the bowl clean. You may need to use slightly more or less water to achieve this point.
- Lightly oil a surface and turn out the dough. Begin to knead for between 5 and 10 minutes. You are aiming for a smooth skin on the dough. Then drop into a lightly oiled large bowl, cover with a clean cloth and let it rise in a warm place.
- Crucial: after ten minutes take out and knead again for ten seconds. Put it back in the bowl, and ten minutes later repeat this 10 second kneading. Then fold the dough over tightly and seal side down push the dough into a lightly oiled 1lb loaf tin and press down slightly, then cover with the clean cloth and put somewhere to prove for one hour.
- When the dough has risen, and if you prod it and it doesn’t bounce back quickly, it is ready.
- Oven on – 200 (fan). Sprinkle flour on the bread, making five or six slashes in the bread itself. Put it into the oven and leave for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180 (fan) and leave for 15 -20 minutes. It should be nicely brown.
- Take it out of the oven, turn it out and tap the underside. It should sound hollow and feel light. If it does not put it back in the oven, without the loaf tin, and bake for a further 5-10 minutes checking occasionally.
- Remove from the oven and put on a wire rack to cool.