Sunday, 6 January 2013

Basic white bread

Your bog-standard yeast-based non-sourdough white bread is what Dan and I like best. Makes the best toast BY FAR in our opinion, so will probably be the basis for a lot of our inventions. So what if it's not fashionable! This recipe is adapted from Paul Hollywood's book, How To Bake.

Kneading dough

500g strong white bread flour
30g butter, cubed and softened
10g fast-action yeast
10g salt
300ml tepid water

Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the yeast on one side of the flour and the salt on the other. Add the butter and most of the water, then mix by hand using a circular motion and keep turning until all the dry ingredients are incorporated into a soft and just-wet dough, only adding the rest of the water if necessary to get the right consistency.


Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 6 to 8 minutes until the dough has changed texture from grainy to smooth and pillowy. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or oiled clingfilm. Leave the dough to rise for just over an hour, until it has doubled in size (put it in a slightly warm place in the winter), then knock out the air by punching it while it's in the bowl. This is Dan's favourite bit, as you can see above.

Turn it out on to a flat surface and knead for 30 seconds before shaping it for the loaf tin. Place the shaped dough in the tin, cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise for 30 minutes or so. Dust with flour and slash the top of the loaf with a sharp knife and return under the clingfilm to rise for a further 30 minutes. At the same time, turn the oven on to heat to 200C (400F, gas 6). At the end of the rising time, bake the loaf in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes.

Kneading with a dough hook
I prefer to knead basic bread doughs by hand, but it's not always possible and I do sometimes throw ingredients into a mixer fitted with a dough hook. BUT this Paul Hollywood basic dough simply doesn't work in a mixer. Not entirely sure why not, but I've tried enough times to be certan about it. So when using a mixer and dough hook, I use the ingredients given in the basic white bread recipe in Leith's Baking Bible. I don't find the resulting bread to be quite as satisfying, but it works well enough. Here are the ingredients:

500g strong white bread flour
30g butter, melted and cooled
7g fast-action yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons caster sugar
300ml lukewarm water

Put everything in the bowl and mix at minimum speed until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Turn the mixer to a low-medium speed and let the hook do its work for about 6 or 7 minutes. Follow the directions given above, although the dough's initial rise will probably take just 1.5 hours due to the use of warmer water.

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