I love love love baking bread. I particularly love- and I’m sure I’m not unique in this- the smell of bread-dough as it’s rising, and also (of course) the heady smell of a loaf straight out of the oven.
Making these two loaves was part of working on goal 191, which has to do with bread-baking every week. I’m very happy that I’ve decided to do bread-baking more systematically. Apart from leading to a delicious result (hopefully!) I find it very therapeutic. There’s nothing like working on bread dough to get rid of anger or anxiety. Plus, kneading is a bit of much needed exercise for the upper arms…
The recipe I followed was the one for Nigella Lawson’s ‘basic white loaf’ (from How to Eat). Which makes this part of goal 151 too (cooking every recipe from How to eat: quite an ambitious goal, isn’t it?!) I’ve doubled the quantities & made some tiny changes.
- 600 gr. strong flour
- 20 gr. dried yeast (instead of fresh yeast, which is what Nigella specifies)
- 2 teaspoons salt (I would use a bit more if I were to do this again)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 340 ml tepid water more like 450-500 ml water, but tread carefully (my dough was too dry with the amount Nigella specifies. I kept adding water, judging as I was going along how much was needed. You want the dough sticky for a while, before it turns smooth & stretchy).
- 20 gr. (or so) fat (I used rapeseed oil because that’s what I had in the flat)
- Tip the flour onto a worktop & add yeast, salt, sugar.
- Pour over the water & bring together until it becomes a kind-of ‘ball’ of dough. At this point it’ll be very sticky
- As the dough starts to come together, add the fat
- Begin kneading & go on for at least 10 minutes
- When the dough’s ready- it’ll feel smoother & less sticky- bring it to a ball, flour the worktop & the piece of dough lightly, cover with clingfilm & a tea-towel & leave for 30′.
- After the 30′ pass, knead for 3 minutes. Again, flour the worktop & dough-ball & leave for 30 more minutes.
- Flatten the dough to expel gas bubbles. Fold in half & then in half again (and so on) until it’s a small ball. Flour the worktop & ball of dough & leave for 10′.
- Shape the dough (I made 2 loaves, but you can do a big round loaf instead).
- Slash the tops of the loaves if you want & place in greased loaf tins or on a baking tray (if making a round loaf)
- Put the tins or tray in a warm place, under a plastic bag for an hour
- Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220 C for about 35 minutes. Keep an eye on it: in my oven it took a bit less time.
- When you think the bread’s ready, lift it up & knock the base; if it sounds hollow it’s cooked.