White Yeast Loaf
Now this one needs patience, it takes time more than the technicality! But be patient, don’t rush it and you’ll have a most wonderful tasting white fresh loaf at the end!
This makes 2 loaves
425 ml (15fl oz) warm water
10 g (1/3oz) caster sugar
20g (3/4oz) fresh yeast (most preferable) or 21/2 tsp dried yeast or 11/2 x 7g sachets of fast-action yeast
700 g (1lb 9oz) strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp salt
25 g (1oz) butter or 25 ml olive oil
1 egg, beaten, and poppy or sesame seeds (optional)
In a measuring jug, mix the warm water with the sugar and yeast and leave to stand in a warm place for 5 minutes or until the mixture is creamy. (almost looks like a guiness!!) If using fast-action yeast, there is no need to let the mixture stand.
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, or the bowl of an electric food mixer fitted with a dough hook. Rub in the butter (if using) and make a well in the centre. (If using olive oil instead of butter, pour it into the yeast mixture.) Pour the yeast mixture (mixed with the olive oil, if using) into the well and mix to a loose dough, adding extra water if needed.
Knead by hand for about 10 minutes (5 minutes in the food mixer) or until dough is smooth and springy to the touch.
Grease the bowl with olive oil and put the dough back into it, then cover the top tightly with beeswax paper if you have it. If not you can use cling film and place somewhere warm to rise for up to 2 hours (up to 3 hours on a cold day) or until doubled in size.
When the dough has more than doubled in size, knockback and knead again for 2–3 minutes. Leave to relax for 10 minutes before you begin to shape the bread.
Divide the dough in half and shape into two loaves, then transfer to a baking tin and cover with a clean tea towel. Allow to prove in a warm place for 20–30 minutes or until the dough has again doubled in size. When fully risen, it should leave a dent when you gently press the dough with your finger.
While the bread is proving, preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F), Gas mark 7.
Dust the top of each loaf with flour or gently brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds (if using), then bake in the oven for 40–45 minutes. Turn the heat down to 200°C (400°F), Gas mark 6, after 15 minutes for the remaining cooking time.
Take out of the tin, if cooked, the bread should sound hollow when tapped on the base. If it does not put bread onto the rack in oven for another 5 min (don’t put back into the tin)
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.