Rustic White LoafYum
There are few things better in life than a simple slice of really fresh bread, with some proper butter. I don’t mean that ‘spreadable’ stuff, I mean real honest-to-god butter. If this is something you don’t really have in your part of the world, if you’re ever in Ireland make sure you get your hands on some. Combine this with a crusty, aromatic, fresh bread – well life doesn’t really require much more than that, does it?
This is a great bread for a simple treat like that. It’s the easiest loaf I’ve ever made, and it’s super reliable. Mine never really varies much from bake to bake. Good quality flour is, of course, a help.
Don’t force flour in to this dough when you’re kneading; it’s not required. You want a dough that’s quite firm and elastic, but not too firm and dense. You also don’t want a sticky dough. When it’s smooth and elastic with good gluten development, it’s ready to prove!
If you’re new to bread, or just haven’t found your basic, reliable recipe yet, then this is the one for you. Never buy stodgy sliced pan again!
- 500g strong white flour or bread flour
- 2 tsp. fast action yeast
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1.5 tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 325 ml water
- Pour 100ml warm water into a bowl. Add the sugar and stir. Pour the yeast on top and allow to sit until a foam has formed on the top (around 5 minutes).
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre.
- Pour the frothy yeast mixture into the bowl. Add 2/3 of the remaining water, and the olive oil. Combine to make a rough dough, adding more water if necessary.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until your dough is smooth and elastic (10-12 mins). To test for gluten development, press on the dough with a floured finger. If the dough bounces right back up, it's ready. If a dent remains in the dough, it needs more kneading.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film or a tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size (1.5-2 hours).
- Once risen, knock back and shape your dough. Cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 225C/435F while the dough rests. Allow a deep oven dish or baking tray to heat up on the bottom shelf as the oven preheats.
- Rub some flour into the top of the dough and make 2-3 slashes on the top before baking. This will control the release of steam from the dough.
- Bake on the middle shelf of the oven. When adding the dough, pour hot water into the baking tray on the bottom shelf of the oven. This creates steam while the loaf bakes, creating a good crust.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until the loaf is a deep golden colour. Do not open the oven as the loaf bakes. This will release all the steam.
- To check whether the loaf is baked, tap the bottom of the loaf. It should sound hollow.
- Allow the loaf to cool on a wire rack completely before slicing it.