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Foolproof White Bread

by Adam Byatt from How To Eat In

Looking to make a classic white bread at home? This foolproof recipe from How to Eat In takes you step-by-step through baking the perfect homemade loaf.

Introduction

There are many bread recipes out there, but none can compete with this method for simple delivery of warm, delicious familiarity and comfort. It really is the simplest yeast-based bread recipe you will come across, and requires no strange machinery or knowledge!

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Ingredients

1kg strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
50g fresh yeast
25g sea salt
25g caster sugar
600ml cold water
Good-quality olive oil
30 small sprigs thyme

Essential kit

You will need 3 baking trays.

Method

Line a large bowl with clingfilm. Lightly grease 3 baking trays.

Tip the flour on to a work surface or into a large bowl and add the yeast, salt and sugar. Crumble the ingredients through your fingers to mix everything together and to warm up the flour. When all is incorporated, make a well in the centre and slowly add the water and a splash of olive oil, kneading the dough until it comes together.

Place the dough in the lined bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave the dough to rise in a warm environment (an airing cupboard or a warm stovetop, or even on a table or shelf next to a warm radiator) for up to 2 hours, until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 240°C/220°C fan/gas 9.

Once the dough has risen, transfer it to a floured work surface, then knock it back and knead well to remove all the air.

Cut the dough into 3 equal pieces, then divide each third into 10 equal-sized pieces; they will weigh about 50g each. Now form the rolls one at a time. Take a piece of dough in the palm of your hand (or a piece in each palm if you practise!) and push it hard on the work surface, rolling it around slowly and raising your fingers gradually to arch your hand. The dough will form a ball with a join underneath – this is essential for the roll to prove and cook from the base up and retain its shape.

Line the rolls up on the baking trays and sift flour over them to create a light dusting. Now snip the top of each roll with sharp scissors and insert a small sprig of thyme. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm environment again. After 20-30 minutes the rolls should have doubled in size.

When the rolls have risen, remove the clingfilm and carefully place the trays in the oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the bottom of a roll sounds hollow when tapped. (If you don’t have a fan oven, you may need to swap the trays around.) Remove the trays from the oven and allow the rolls to cool on a wire rack. If you can resist the bread with a knife full of butter before it’s fully cooled, you’re stronger-willed than l am!

Tip: If you prefer to make loaves rather than rolls, this recipe will make 2 large loaves (in 1kg loaf tins) and the baking time will be about 45 minutes.

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