With the snow meaning no bread on the shop shelves we bought flour and yeast and decided to make our own [risking the wrath of our grinch-like cooker]. I was making morrocan lamb so Andy got bread duties. We based the recipe on one by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Ingredients by HF-W - adaptations by us!
1kg strong white bread flour - we used wholemeal because that is all the shop had 10g fast-action yeast 15g fine salt 1-2 tbsp sunflower, rapeseed or olive oil (optional), plus extra to oil the dough 600ml warm water
Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl.
Add the oil then add the water.
Stir to create a rough, sticky dough. The dough really should be quite sticky – if it isn’t, add a splash more water. We were using wholemeal flour which makes for a drier dough so added another 100ml of water.
Turn out the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, rhythmically stretching the dough away from you, then folding it back on itself.
Andy beats the winter chill by kneading the dough....
When the dough is smooth and elastic, form it into a ball, coat it very lightly with oil and place in a clean bowl.
Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size - in the region of 1½ hours.
Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and deflate with your fingertips. Reshape the dough into neat rounds and put on a lightly floured board to prove for around 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 250°C/gas mark 10, or its highest setting. Put a baking tray in to heat up.
When the loaves have almost doubled in size again, take the hot baking tray from the oven and sprinkle with a little flour.
Carefully transfer the risen loaves to the tray. Slash the tops with a sharp, serrated knife and put in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190°C/gas mark 5 and bake for about 30 minutes more, or until the crust is well-coloured, and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it sharply with your fingers. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before slicing.
The finished bread was amazing - and it lasted fine over three days. The oil really helps keep a nice soft crumb but I reckon it was Andy's excellent kneading that really made it good bread!