There is on this blog a recipe for a wholemeal loaf. However, sometimes there is a need for white bread – and for some sandwiches I think only white bread will do. Here is a simple, straightforward version for a 2lb standard white loaf.
- 500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting.
- 7g sachet of fast-action dried yeast.
- 1 tsp of salt.
- up to 350ml of lukewarm water
- sunflower oil for greasing.
- Tip the flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour in most of the water and mix together until combined into a slightly wet, workable dough.
- Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for at least 10 minutes until smooth and elastic (you can use a mixer with dough hook). Put the dough into a clean oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise until doubled in size.
- Oven on to 220c/200fan/gas 7.
- Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knock back. Mould into the shape of a rugby ball and place it into a well buttered 900g (2lb) loaf tin. Dust the top of the loaf with flour. Cover with a clean tea towel and let it prove for at least 30 minutes.
- When it has reached over the top of the loaf tin it’s ready. Slash the top with a sharp knife by drawing the knife down the length of the bread, pushing in about 1/4 to 1/2 inch.
- Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 190.fan 170/gas 5 and bake for a further 30 minutes. It is cooked when it sounds hollow when removed from the tin and tapped on the base. If you want a crusty loaf all over, pop in back in the oven on its top and leave for a further five minutes.
- Leave to cool completely on a wire rack. It will stay fresh for 3 days – or one month if you freeze it.
A couple small points. Do watch the first rising. Don’t let it go too far and do aim for double in size. Again when you go for the second rising in the tin the time will vary depending on the warmth of the kitchen. The second rising should be over the top of the tin, but not too high. You don’t want to over work the yeast and leave nothing for a further rising and levelling in the over. If you let the yeast do all the work outside of the oven the bread will sink and not have the lovely dome. I know slashing the bread sounds counterintuitive (letting all the gasses out right?) But no. It doesn’t. Also if you slash at an angle the breach well get a lip at that angle. Nice if you like that look.