How To Make Basic White Bread

4 February 2014

I'm not afraid to admit to being scared of baking bread. All that kneading and proving and proving again made it sound time consuming and complicated. What with work, school runs and general mum duties, I never seem to be at home for long enough to get it all done. 

Well last Monday I finally conquered my fear and baked some bread. Lydia and I decided to have a day at home and I knew it would be a baking day, so I got out my recipe books and started flicking. Once I'd decided to bake some bread, I knew there was only one recipe book I needed... Paul Hollywood's How To Bake.

I thought I'd start at the beginning and go for a Basic White Loaf. I followed the recipe to the word and was still shocked to see that the dough actually rose! My favourite part was kneading the dough... it's great for getting any frustrations out!

When it finally came out of the oven and I saw the finished loaf, I was so proud! It looked amazing... and it also tasted gorgeous. Hubby is the bread fiend in our house and he absolutely loved it and ate most of the loaf. 

The only drawback of conquering my fear of bread is that I can feel myself becoming addicted to making it!

Basic White Loaf

500g strong white bread flour
40g very soft butter
12g fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp salt
300ml tepid water {warm not cold – about body temperature}
Olive oil or vegetable oil

Put the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast at one side of the bowl and add the salt at the other {otherwise the salt will kill the yeast} then give them all a good stir to combine.

Add the butter and half the water. Then get your hand in and give it a good mix in a circular motion. Add more water a little at a time, until all of the flour has been picked up from the sides of the bowl. You might not need to add all of the water, or you might need to add a little more... the dough should be well combined and soft, but not sticky or soggy. Keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.

Use a little oil to lightly grease your work surface {using oil instead of flour will keep the texture of the dough consistent}. Turn out your dough onto the greased work surface and knead for about 10 minutes. The dough should be nice and smooth after kneading, if it’s not smooth and elastic and is still tearing as you stretch it, it needs more kneading

Clean and lightly oil your mixing bowl then put the dough back into it. Cover with a clean tea towel or clingfilm and place it in a warm draught free spot to prove. The dough should double in size which should take about one hour.

Once the dough has doubled in size scrape it out of the bowl to shape it. The texture should be bouncy and shiny. Knock it back by kneading it firmly to 'knock' out the air. I doubled the dough over, turned it 45 degrees and doubles it again and repeat this a few times. To shape the dough, flatten out it into a rectangle and fold the edges into the centre. Keep folding in the dough to the centre which tightens up the shape and forms a good spine in the centre of the dough. Aim to keep the shape approximately the length of your tin.

Lightly oil a 900g loaf tin. Place the dough into the tin, cover again and leave to rise in your warm spot until doubled in size. This will take about an hour, but may be quicker or slower depending on how warm your kitchen is.

Preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan assisted)/425F/Gas 7. Put an empty roasting tin into the bottom of the oven.

When the dough has doubled in size, uncover it and sprinkle some flour on top. Use a sharp knife to make 2 or 3 shallow cuts (about 1cm/½in deep) across the top of the loaf.

Put the loaf into the middle of the oven. Pour cold water into the empty roasting tin... this creates steam which helps the loaf develop a crisp and shiny crust. Bake the loaf for about 30 minutes.

Once baked take it out of the tin straight away. To check if it's properly baked and tap it gently underneath – it should sound hollow. If it's more of a dull noise put it back in the over for a further 5 minutes then check again. Leave it to cool on a wire rack.

Here are a few tips on the technical part of bread making that I found really helpful.

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  1. Hard to beat homemade bread. I have a bread maker I set everynight to make fresh sandwiches for the kids packed lunches in the mornings

  2. That's looks wonderful-love the smell of homemade bread in the house too! Thanks for linking up to #tastytuesdays

  3. I definitely going to try this. x

  4. Great guide. I've only recently started to have success with bread making and it does feel like a huge achievement! Thank you for linking up to #recipeoftheweek. It’s always appreciated :) I’ve Pinned and Tweeted this post and there’s a new linky just gone live - would love you to join in x


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