Basic Bread

This recipe couldn’t be simpler, it makes 2 small loaves, 2 large pizza bases or 12 rolls.


 

  • 400 grams white strong/bread flour
  • 1 egg or a little milk for glazing – optional
  • 2 teaspoon(s) oil
  • 1 teaspoon(s) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 2 teaspoon(s) easy-blend yeast – comes in sachets
  • 300 mL warm water
  • Poppy or sesame seeds – optional

 

  1. Put the flour, salt, sugar and dried easy-blend yeast into a large bowl and mix together.
  2. Make a well in the flour and pour in all the warm water.
  3. Using one hand only, mix together until all the water is taken up. You will now have a very rough, sticky, lumpy dough.
  4. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto an oiled surface, and start kneading it using the method below in the tips section. Put the dough back in the mixing bowl to rise between kneading covered by a teatowel. Tip: Add more warm water if it seems dry. Don’t worry if it feels too sticky – you can knead in a little more flour if necessary. This is much easier than adding more liquid to the dough if it is too dry.
  5. Now leave the dough to rise until it has almost doubled in size (about 1/2 hour – this is the first prove). If you are in a hurry you can shape now and cook right away – this will result in a more open textured loaf.
  6. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto the oiled surface. Knock out all the bubbles.
  7. Now shape the dough ready for baking (see shapes below). Loaves and rolls will need to rise again but pizzas can be used straight away.
  8. Preheat the oven to 450°F/ 220°C/gas 8.
  9. Slide the tray(s) onto top shelf of oven – make sure there is room above the tins, as the dough will rise some more. Try to avoid jolting the tins, and don’t slam the door!
  10. After 15 minutes, (10 minutes for rolls), inspect the bread and turn the tins around to ensure even baking. Rolls will take 10 – 20 minutes depending on their size. If your oven is very fierce, lower the setting to 400°F, 200°C, gas 6.
  11. Bake loaves for a further 15 to 20 minutes, rolls for 5 – 10 minutes, until both the crust and base are golden brown.
  12. Turn out onto cooling racks. Tap them underneath; they will sound hollow when cooked. When cold the bread can be wrapped and frozen. Always allow bread to cool before slicing or storing.

Bread shapes

For Loaves: Divide dough into 2 pieces you can shape each piece into a round or long loaf, or make three of four ropes and plait them together. Place on a floured baking tray well spaced apart. Or else place each one in greased loaf tins. Any cracks or folds should be underneath, and the tins should only be half full to allow for rising. Leave to rise until doubled again (second prove).

For Rolls: Divide dough into 12 or more equal pieces, form into neat shapes – balls, knots, plaits etc. and arrange on a greased baking sheet, well spaced apart. Cover the dough with a teatowel while it is proving for the second time – until doubed in size.

For Pizza bases: Divide into four pieces and roll each one out into a thin circle. Pizza bases don’t need to rise again so can be used straight away. Cover the bases with your chosen toppings and bake. For a change, make smaller rounds of dough and fold them over your filling to make calzone (a type of Italian pasty). With pizza there are so many options you can add grated cheese (about 75g), fried chopped onion or garlic, chopped black olives (minus their stones), chopped sun-dried tomatoes or even fresh/dried herbs to the basic dough after is has risen for the first time. So get creative!

Method

  1. Put the flour, salt, sugar and dried easy-blend yeast into a large bowl and mix together.
  2. Make a well in the flour and pour in all the warm water.
  3. Using one hand only, mix together until all the water is taken up. You will now have a very rough, sticky, lumpy dough.
  4. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto an oiled surface, and start kneading it using the method below in the tips section. Put the dough back in the mixing bowl to rise between kneading covered by a teatowel. Tip: Add more warm water if it seems dry. Don’t worry if it feels too sticky – you can knead in a little more flour if necessary. This is much easier than adding more liquid to the dough if it is too dry.
  5. Now leave the dough to rise until it has almost doubled in size (about 1/2 hour – this is the first prove). If you are in a hurry you can shape now and cook right away – this will result in a more open textured loaf.
  6. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto the oiled surface. Knock out all the bubbles.
  7. Now shape the dough ready for baking (see shapes below). Loaves and rolls will need to rise again but pizzas can be used straight away.
  8. Preheat the oven to 450°F/ 220°C/gas 8.
  9. Slide the tray(s) onto top shelf of oven – make sure there is room above the tins, as the dough will rise some more. Try to avoid jolting the tins, and don’t slam the door!
  10. After 15 minutes, (10 minutes for rolls), inspect the bread and turn the tins around to ensure even baking. Rolls will take 10 – 20 minutes depending on their size. If your oven is very fierce, lower the setting to 400°F, 200°C, gas 6.
  11. Bake loaves for a further 15 to 20 minutes, rolls for 5 – 10 minutes, until both the crust and base are golden brown.
  12. Turn out onto cooling racks. Tap them underneath; they will sound hollow when cooked. When cold the bread can be wrapped and frozen. Always allow bread to cool before slicing or storing.

Bread shapes

For Loaves: Divide dough into 2 pieces you can shape each piece into a round or long loaf, or make three of four ropes and plait them together. Place on a floured baking tray well spaced apart. Or else place each one in greased loaf tins. Any cracks or folds should be underneath, and the tins should only be half full to allow for rising. Leave to rise until doubled again (second prove).

For Rolls: Divide dough into 12 or more equal pieces, form into neat shapes – balls, knots, plaits etc. and arrange on a greased baking sheet, well spaced apart. Cover the dough with a teatowel while it is proving for the second time – until doubed in size.

For Pizza bases: Divide into four pieces and roll each one out into a thin circle. Pizza bases don’t need to rise again so can be used straight away. Cover the bases with your chosen toppings and bake. For a change, make smaller rounds of dough and fold them over your filling to make calzone (a type of Italian pasty). With pizza there are so many options you can add grated cheese (about 75g), fried chopped onion or garlic, chopped black olives (minus their stones), chopped sun-dried tomatoes or even fresh/dried herbs to the basic dough after is has risen for the first time. So get creative!

Ingredients

 

  • 400 grams white strong/bread flour
  • 1 egg or a little milk for glazing – optional
  • 2 teaspoon(s) oil
  • 1 teaspoon(s) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 2 teaspoon(s) easy-blend yeast – comes in sachets
  • 300 mL warm water
  • Poppy or sesame seeds – optional

 


Tips:

  • Use only warm water. Hot water will kill the yeast, cold water will slow it down.
  • Kneading, very simply, means pressing the heel of your hand into the dough to stretch it, then folding the dough back on itself, rotating it a quarter turn, and repeating. Try kneading for 10 seconds every 10 minutes for half an hour. No need for tired arms!
  • Experiment with mixing other flours together, or adding seeds. To avoid sticky-hand syndrome use oil rather than flour on the table when kneading, as this will not alter the dough’s consistency.
  • When mixing your ingredients during bread-making, always add the salt and yeast to opposite sides of the bowl as the salt can kill the yeast.
  • Before putting the bread in the oven try brushing the loaves or rolls gently with eggwash or milk and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds.
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