We may have become used to the convenience of the sliced white loaf but there is nothing quite like the smell and taste of a home made loaf of bread. It’s easier to make than you think, you just need a few basic ingredients plus a little patience and you can have your own fresh bread at home. This is a basic recipe which once you’ve mastered you can switch up. Why not try adding some seeds or using a wholemeal flour?
500g strong white bread flour
1 x 7g sachet of dried instant yeast
325ml tepid water
40 ml oil (olive or vegetable oil is fine)
Pour your water into a bowl and add the yeast. Make sure the water is only tepid not hot, as it can kill the yeast if too hot. Mix with a fork and leave for a couple of minutes until you see some frothy bubbles appearing, this means the yeast is alive.
Add the flour and oil, mix briefly with a fork then add the salt and mix again with the fork until it starts to come together in a ball.
Flour your hands and knead the dough inside the bowl until the sides of the bowl are clean.
Flour a clean work surface and tip the dough out onto it. Knead the dough until smooth and no longer sticky, this should take 5-10 minutes, you can add more flour if it starts sticking too much. Shape the dough into a ball by tucking the sides into the bottom repeatedly with your hands.
Place the dough ball in a clean bowl wiped with a little oil and cover with cling film or a damp clean tea towel. Leave in a warm, draft-free spot for at least an hour until doubled in size.
Once risen, tip the dough out of the bowl and knead it for 30 seconds to knock some of the air out. Shape your loaf however you like, a ‘bloomer’ loaf is a good place to start: pat the dough into a rough rectangle then roll it into a log and tuck the sides under.
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper or if you don’t have any just sprinkle a little flour on it. Place the loaf on the tray and cover again loosely with cling film or a clean tea towel and leave to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.
Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 220c/Gas mark 7 and place a baking tray or oven dish at the bottom of the oven.
Once your dough has risen for a second time remove the cover and spray with a little water then sprinkle with flour. If you are making a ‘bloomer’ loaf you can also take a sharp knife and make 3 or 4 slashes diagonally across the loaf.
Prepare a jug of roughly 300ml water. As you put the bread dough in the oven pour the water into the tray or dish at the bottom of the oven and shut the door as quickly as possible so as not to let the steam escape.
Bake for 25 minutes at 220c then reduce the temperature to 200c and bake for a further 10-15 minutes. After the final 10 minutes take the bread out of the oven and tap the bottom, if it sounds hollow your bread is done, if not then pop it back in for another 5 minutes.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.