Finally a decent loaf!

Bread has to be one of the basic staples of all meals. We’ve been baking it and eating it for years and whether you like soft whites or hearty seeded wholemeals our meals would be lacking without it.
I used to work in a patisserie many years ago but unfortunately they bought their fresh bread in, so I never got to steal a recipe. The one thing I did learn was that the fresher the bread the greater the taste. In the patisserie I was responsible for slicing the fresh bread and spent many hungover mornings stealing slices out of the centre of peoples loaves. Hot fresh bread is a good hangover cure.
From that point I’ve made my own bread. I’ve tried many different recipes and methods and have always been a little disappointed. I think I’ve finally got a basic loaf from which I can experiment from, draw back is it’s all made by hand! I still use my kenwood mixer to knock up some pizza or flatbread dough but for a decent loaf it needs some good old fashioned hard work.

Ingredients

750 grammes of Strong flour (preferably organic, British and the stronger the better)
14 grammes of Fast acting yeast
14 grammes of Sea salt (finely ground)
14 grammes of Honey ( I tend to add half a teaspoon of granulated sugar as honey and yeast don’t play nicely together)
40ml of Sesame oil
400ml of tepid water ( this is approximate as it depends on your flour )

Step 1
Mix 200ml of your water with the honey/sugar and yeast and stir well. Caution: Your water should not be over 20c as it will kill your yeast)

Step 2
In a large bowl add the flour and salt, stirring them together to spread the salt a little. Then add the sesame oil and mix this through.

Step 3
Slowly mix in the yeast/water/honey mixture to the flour. Next using the remainder of the water you need to create a dough that involves all of the flour and is tacky to touch. This bit is a little bit of judgement and I normally tip the dough out of the bowl onto a clean surface, but it is better to have a wetter dough and add flour while on the work surface that to try and add additional water at this stage.

Step 4
Kneading, everyone has there own style and theres no wrong way to do it. As long as your stretching the dough and folding it over it’ll work. Kneading takes me about 5 minutes but depends on style and strength can take less or more time, the key is the dough should gain a smooth surface then returns when pressed.

Step 5
Lightly flour the bowl your mixed your dough in and return the knead dough to it. Cut a couple of deep cuts into it and cover either with a damp cloth/tea towel or with clingfilm. Let it rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 40 minutes in a warm room.
Step 6
This step is the most dis-heartening of all you need to knock the air out of the risen bread for about a minute. This is to re-distribute the bubbles through the bread. At this point you need to shape your bread to how you would like your final loaf. My favoured choice is nice and simple and I flour a sheet of baking paper on a flat tray and just make a simple round loaf. Cutting the top but this time for visual effect so the cuts are not as deep. Flour the top of the loaf and cover again with a damp tea towel. I then place the loaf on the hob above my oven and turn the oven on high to pre-heat it.
Step 6.a
One of my bread loves is Tiger bread you get from almost all of the supermarkets today. To make tiger bread you need to make a paste from:
A pinch of salt
A pinch of sugar
A pinch of yeast
A desert spoon of sesame oil
100 grammes of rice flour
100 ml of water(ish)
Add the water last to regulate the consistency of the paste. Once combined spread over the top of your unrisen loaf. Covering a loaf with this paste is pretty difficult and anything that touches it will stick. I placed cling film over mine but lost 50% of the topping to the cling film.
Step 7
Finally to the baking, without banging or knocking your bread place it in the oven at the highest temperature and gently shut the oven door. after 10-15 minutes turn the temperature down to 220C for the remainder of the cooking time, approximatley 30-40 minutes or until the dough sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Step 8
Place on a wire rack to cool for a little while prior to eating!

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