Classic white loaf
- April 2016
- Serves 8 (16 slices)
- Hands-on 30 min, oven 40-45 min, plus rising & proving
Use this recipe for a classic white loaf to make the most diverse of breads – cut thick slices for proper doorstop sandwiches, serve alongside soup or simply spread on plenty of salted butter.
- 1.5g (0.7g saturated)
- 25g (1.4g sugars)
- 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting and sprinkling
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 7g fast-action dried yeast
- 310ml lukewarm milk, plus extra for glazing
- 1 medium free-range egg
- Flavourless vegetable oil (such as sunflower) for greasing
- Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a large mixing bowl and stir together well. Measure the milk into a measuring jug, crack in the egg, then beat together with a fork. Add the mixture to the flour, quickly stir it in, then bring the dough together.
- Gently knead the dough in the bowl, then put in a stand mixer with a dough hook and knead on a medium setting for 5-10 minutes. Alternatively, knead on a lightly floured surface for 10-15 minutes until the dough springs back when lightly pressed with a finger.
- Put the dough in a lightly oiled, large mixing bowl, cover with cling film and leave it to rise in a warm place for 1 hour until nearly doubled in size.
- When the dough has risen, return to a clean surface and gently knead to knock out any large air pockets. Shape the loaf into an even round and put on a greased baking tray. Use the flat of your hand to flatten the dough a little. Slash the top 3 times with a sharp knife, then cover with a plastic bag or some lightly oiled cling film. Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5.
- Leave to prove in a warm place for 45-60 minutes. Brush the loaf with a little milk, sprinkle flour over the top, then bake for 40-45 minutes until risen, golden and the loaf sounds hollow when gently tapped on the underside. Cool on a wire rack, then slice.
If you’re kneading by hand, we recommend you add three-quarters of the liquid, then see if it needs the rest (some flours take more liquid than others). If the dough really is too wet to knead, add an extra handful of flour.
A plastic dough scraper is useful when hand-kneading wet, sticky dough – find them in all good cookshops or on Amazon.
You can leave the dough to rise overnight in the fridge. Bring it back to room temperature before shaping and proving. You can also freeze dough after kneading: freeze in an airtight freezer bag, easing out as much of the air as you can before sealing. Defrost completely, then let the dough puff up again before shaping and proving. After overnight rising or freezing, it may take a bit longer than usual to prove.
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