White bread loaf
- May 2015
- Makes 1 large loaf (12-15 slices)
- Hands-on time 45 min, oven time 30-35 min, plus rising and proving
Master the dough for this white bread loaf recipe and you can then go on to experiment with lots of different flavours and techniques.
- 1.7g (0.7g saturated)
- 23.3g (1.5g sugars)
Per slice (for 15)
- 15g fresh yeast (or 7g dried – see Know-how)
- ½ tsp caster sugar
- 290ml lukewarm milk (simmer, then leave to cool)
- 450g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 1 medium free-range egg, lightly beaten, plus 1 extra for glazing
- Oil for greasing
- Dissolve the yeast and the sugar in a little of the lukewarm milk in a small bowl.
- Put the flour in a large mixing bowl with the salt. Pour in the yeast mixture, the rest of the milk and the beaten egg, then stir with a round-bladed knife until the dough begins to come together. Tip out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic and springs back when pressed lightly with your finger.
- Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave somewhere warm to rise for 1 hour (or see Make Ahead).
- Once the dough has doubled in size, heat the oven to 200°C/ 180°C fan/gas 6 with a small roasting tin of hot water in the bottom (see Know-how). Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knock it back for a minute or so (gently knead to distribute the air).
- Form the dough into a ball with your hands. Lightly flour a baking sheet, then put the dough on top. Press down slightly to flatten the bottom, then slash the top of the loaf into a pattern using a sharp knife or scalpel. Cover with a lightly oiled piece of cling film and leave somewhere warm to prove (rise in its final shape) for 30-40 minutes until one- and-a-third times the size.
- Brush the loaf lightly with beaten egg, then bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and firm – it should sound hollow when tapped on the base. Cool completely, then slice.
Make the dough to the end of step 2 up to 12 hours before baking, then put in an oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise slowly in the fridge. Take it out of the fridge at least 1 hour before knocking it back as in step 4.
Freeze the finished loaf on the day it’s baked, well wrapped, for up to 1 month. Defrost to slice.
If you want to make a few batches of bread dough, you can freeze it in freezer bags at the end of step 2. Defrost completely, let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size, then knock back. Let it prove, then bake as in the recipe. It may take longer to rise as cold dough rises very slowly.
Using fresh yeast instead of dried makes a real difference to the way bread dough rises and cooks. Most bakeries (including in-store supermarket bakeries) will sell you some, or you can buy it online from Ocado.
Putting a tray of water in the bottom of the oven while the dough cooks produces steam, which helps the bread dough rise and form a crisp crust.
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