We normally make our own bread. But as with so many things, there’s a temptation to overcomplicate as we strive for better results. And I suddenly had a yen for simple but good white English bread, not sourdough, not French, no sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseeds, no malt extract, just the basics. This was the result:
Here’s the recipe, based on a kilo of flour:
1000g strong white bread flour (I used Marriage’s Manitoba flour, 13.7% protein)
20g unsalted butter
200g skimmed milk
7g sachet instant yeast
Using a mixer fitted with a dough hook, put the liquids in the bowl first, then the salt and shredded (or melted) butter.
Add the flour and sprinkle the yeast on the top.
Mix on low speed for two minutes. Rest for two minutes, then mix again until the dough forms a ball.
Leave to rise in a bowl. covered with oiled clingfilm. Give it plenty of time – the slower the better for developing the flavour!
Grease two large loaf tins, and dust with semolina flour (or other flour of your choice).
Knead the risen dough briefly, then divide between the pans (approx 850g in each).
Leave to prove, covered with oiled clingfilm.
Bake in a hot oven (180C fan assisted) with a small dish of water to provide initial steam.
Turn after 30 minutes to assist with even cooking
In my oven they took 50 minutes total, by which time the internal temp of the loaves was 195F using a probe thermometer.
I don’t pretend that these are the most professional loaves ever, but they taste jolly good, make lovely toast, and have the great merit of simplicity.
So, for my next batch it’ll be back to my well-thumbed copy of Elizabeth David’s English Bread and Yeast Cookery for some more ideas, I think!