Make white bread

...Make white bread

Step by step

1 Mixing the water into the dough, using a cutlery knife.

2 Checking the consistency of the dough; it should feel tacky but not too wet.

3 Kneading the dough until it feels smooth and elastic.

4 Shaping the dough into a ball with a smooth, taut surface.

5 The dough in the process of rising.

6 Kneading the dough vigorously to knock it back and produce a more even texture.

7 Placing the dough in the lightly oiled loaf tin, ready to prove.

8 Checking the dough by pressing lightly with a finger; it is ready if it leaves a little indentation.

9 Dusting the surface of the loaf with flour before baking.

Ingredients

Makes a 500g loaf
250g strong plain flour, plus extra
to dust
1 tsp salt
10g fresh yeast
150–175ml warm water

Instructions

  1. Put the flour and salt into a large bowl. Put the yeast in a small bowl, add 2 tbsp of the water and mix with a teaspoon to a loose paste. Add the yeast mixture to the flour, swirl a little more of the water into the yeast bowl, to ensure no yeast is lost, and pour it into the flour. Add three-quarters of the remaining water and mix with a cutlery knife to distribute the water.
  2. Feel the dough with your hands and add the remaining water, if necessary. The dough should be tacky, but not too sticky to work with. If not enough water is added, the dough will be dry and firm, difficult to knead and will make a dry, heavy loaf.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead it well for 5–8 minutes, using the bottom of the palm of one hand to push the dough away from you diagonally across you, and rolling it back with the fingertips of the same hand. Repeat with the other hand and continue kneading in this way, alternating between hands. Avoid adding flour even if the dough sticks to the table a little. As you knead and the water becomes fully distributed, the dough will become a little drier and less tacky.
  4. After about 5 minutes of kneading, shape the dough into a ball, pulling it around itself to create a taut surface. Press the dough with your finger. If it bounces at least three-quarters of the way back and shows some elasticity, it is kneaded sufficiently. If the dough doesn’t bounce back, or only a very little, you should continue kneading.
  5. Once the dough is sufficiently kneaded, place it in a large, very lightly oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled cling film or a damp tea towel and put in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  6. Remove the risen dough from the bowl and knock it back on your work surface, kneading for 2–3 minutes, to break down and distribute all the large bubbles created by the yeast during rising, giving a more even texture to the dough.
  7. Shape the dough by pulling it around itself to create a smooth, taut surface. Roll it a little, smooth side down, on the work surface, then place neatly, smooth side up, in a lightly oiled 500g loaf tin, cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave to prove (rise again) in a warm place to at least half its size again. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.
  8. After about 30 minutes, check the dough by lightly pressing it in one corner with your finger; if it leaves a little indentation, it is ready. If it springs back fully, prove the loaf for longer. The dough should have almost reached the top of the tin (it will rise further in the oven).
  9. Dust the top of the risen loaf with flour and bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes until golden. To check it is done, remove it from the oven and, using oven gloves, invert the tin to remove the loaf; it should feel light and sound hollow when tapped on the underside. If not, return the loaf to the tin and oven and cook for a little longer. Once cooked, leave the unmoulded loaf to cool on a wire rack.

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