I don't know what it is about this recipe (well, actually, I think it's the double quantity of yeast) that makes the bread so fluffy and light. This dough has risen excellently for me every single time I've made it, and after playing around with some salt/sugar measurements in the last few batches, I think we've found our winner. This loaf was dubbed 'the best bread you've made so far' by my mother, quite a compliment, as none of the others had been bad, some just more successful than others.
This, alas, is not a recipe completely of my own design. I've adapted this from the King of bread himself - Paul Hollywood's 'crusty white bloomer' recipe. The first time I made his recipe, I found the resulting bread to be quite salty. I found this unusual as normally my taste buds have a problem with homemade bread being not salty enough, and having that 'yeasty' flavour, which isn't very nice. Considering shop bought breads also contain a lot of salt, and taste fine, I couldn't work why the salt was bothering me. Anyway, I decided to experiment with different amounts to see what different results I would get. I tried no salt at all, half quantities of salt, mixtures of salt and sugar, and all sugar. I learned after many loaves that, yes, salt is critical.
|before second rising|
Crusty White Bread
Makes 1 Large Loaf
500g strong white bread flour
2 packets easy bake yeast (14g)
40g butter (salted or unsalted, your choice)
approx 300ml lukewarm water (about body temp.) you may need more or less, depending on the consistency of your dough.
1. Place the flour into large mixing bowl. Add the butter, breaking it up into small chunks so it will be easier to incorporate. Add the yeast on one side of the bowl, and the salt and sugar on the other. If they are added together too soon, apparently the salt/sugar will kill the yeast, listen to Mr Hollywood, children, he knows what he's talking about.
2. Stir the dry ingredients with your hands, rubbing in the butter a little. Add about half of the water and mix again with your hands, continue to add water until a dough forms. According to Paul 'you want a dough that is well combined and soft, but not sticky or soggy'.
3. Tip out your dough onto a very lightly floured surface. Avoid using too much extra flour, as it will change the consistency of your dough to the worse. If you're having big problems with the dough sticking while kneading (which I have never had with this recipe) spread a small amount of olive oil on your counter top, and knead the dough on top of this instead, which will not alter your finished dough.
4. Knead until smooth and elastic. You should be able to gently pull a piece of dough and it will spring back. Most recipes say this takes about 8-10 minutes but with this recipe, it takes much less, about 5-7, but see what works for you.
5. Tip the kneaded dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave in a warm (but not hot!) spot until doubled in size, about an hour max. For me, this also happens a lot quicker, about half and hour, but that may just be the temperature of my house at this time of year.
6. Remove the dough from the bowl and knock the air out of it. This is simply kneading the dough a few times to remove any huge air bubble, about 10 times should do the trick. With your hands tuck the edges of the dough underneath the ball to form a nice smooth shape. Continue to shape like this until you have the shape that you want. Place the shaped dough on a baking tray scattered well with flour (to prevent sticking) and cover again with a damp tea towel, leaving to rise in the warm spot until doubled in size again. While this is happening preheat your oven to gas mark 6.
7. Once the dough has doubled in size, scatter the top lightly with flour and run it over the dough for an even coating. Slash the dough with a serrated knife a few times using long strokes and cuts no more than 1cm deep, these will expand with cooking.
8. Place the loaf onto the middle shelf of your oven (this is important as otherwise the bread will hit the top of the oven when baking and burn, trust me, I know!) Place a roasting tin filled with 2cm deep of cold water in the bottom of the oven, the steam released when the bread cooks helps give it a wonderful crust.
9. Bake for 25-40 minutes, depending on your oven. The bread should be a deep golden brown on top, and should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Leave to cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before serving.