Although I tried making sourdough, this is my standard bread recipe that works every time. It’s the one I used most weeks and I ring the changes by changing the shape of the loaf or shaping into rolls. Sometimes I add a tray of water to help steam during the cooking process. Seeds make a nice addition too and you can vary the type you use. Poppy seeds are my favourite but I have also used sunflower and sesame seeds – whatever I have to hand at the time. Sometimes, it’s just a plain old loaf!
Despite what I felt was a hefty dose of sugar, this loaf doesn’t taste sweet and a slice has a nice crumb structure.
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 25g butter or tablespoon of oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 pack of fast action dried yeast
- 320ml warm water
- Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
- Add the butter. Use the butter at room temperature and cut up into cubes to make it easier to mix in. Alternatively, you can melt and cool slightly before adding.
- Add the warm water – I usually test and use when hand hot. It is important not to use boiling water as this can stop the yeast from working and if it is too cold, the yeast takes a while to get going.
- Use the dough hook attachment on your mixer initially. I only have a hand whisk and it works fine, even when I double or triple the recipe when making a batch. When it begins to come together, tip out on the work surface to knead.
- The dough looks a bit messy to begin with but after kneading for a few minutes it becomes elastic. Knead for 10 minutes or until you have a smooth, elastic dough that leaves the work surface clean.
- Flour a large bowl, add the dough and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave for an hour or until it has doubled in size.
- Shape into a loaf shape or to fit into a loaf tin. You could also shape into rolls (reduce the cooking time to 15-20 minutes for rolls). Leave on a floured baking sheet to rise for 30 minutes or so. (I have missed this stage out when in a hurry but the resulting loaf will be slightly heavier and they can split at the side if not proved sufficiently). Cover with a damp tea towel or oiled cling film and allow to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size or has come to the top of the tin.
- You can glaze the dough with water or milk and add a sprinkle of seeds before placing in the oven. Pop the bread in a preheated oven at 200°C and cook for 30 minutes. It’s a good idea to check after 20-25 minutes to see how it is doing. When it is ready, the loaf should have a nicely coloured crust and sound hollow when tapped underneath.
- Put the bread on a wire rack to cool.