Beautiful Bread

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Yo! Apologies for the long lapse in posts. I have a collection of recipes and photos sat on my computer desperately waiting to be put online, but a small internet deficiency problem. I’m currently living in France, and to get wifi I have to sit in MacDonald’s which is a miserable experience in itself, let alone for 3 or 4 hours at a time! However, a friend of mine in a nearby town has wifi, and her flat is now my second home, so let the posting begin!

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Here is a lovely recipe for a basic bread – it does involve the faffing with kneading and proving, but it’s so worth it when you tuck into a delicously warm slice of homemade bread.

Ingredients

400g strong white bread flour (plus a handful more for dusting)
7g sachet of instant fast action yeast
20g unsalted butter
240ml water
a large pinch of salt

Method

First, put the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the yeast. Make a well in the centre of the flour and yeast, and add the butter and about 2/3 of the water. Gently mix the butter and water into the flour, adding the salt, and then gradually add more water until the mixture starts to become doughy and kneadable. (Kneadable is a word, right? Basically so it becomes a soft and slightly sticky – but not ‘wet’ or sloppy – dough.)

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Turn it out onto a lightly oiled work surface and knead it for about 10 minutes until it becomes silky and slightly elastic. Next to prove it! This is always a boring part, but so important to get the rise. Pop the dough into a clean and slightly oiled bowl and cover with a dampish teatowl. Now, leave it in a warm place until it has doubled in size – anything from an hour to 2 hours normally.

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While this is happening you can clean up and wash up, maybe watch a couple of episodes of some TV programme, write a poem in rhyming couplets, image if you were an alien on the planet earth… The possibilities are endless! Basically, make sure you have something to do in this time, otherwise you’ll probably cave and bake it too early, losing the rise and ending up disappointed.

When it has risen to double it’s size, pop the dough onto a slightly floured surface and knock the air out of it, rolling it into a ball (I haven’t tried other shapes for this bread so I don’t know how effective they would be.. Give it a shot and let me know!)

Time to prove again.. Sorry folks! Hopefully this time it shouldn’t need as long, mine took about an hour. Pop the bread onto a lined baking tray and leave it to prove again until – again – doubled in size.

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While it’s proving, preheat the oven to 220 degrees c.

When the dough bounces back from a small poke, dust it lightly with some flour and cut a cross into the top…you are now ready to bake! (Well, the dough is, don’t go getting into the oven with it, however hungry you are!)

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Bake it for around 30 minutes – the best way to tell if its cooked is if you pick it up and knock on the bottom: if it sounds hollow it is ready!

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I recommend that you wait for it to cool down before cutting it, otherwise it kind of squishes inside, but that is up to you!

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Enjoy as bread, butΒ don’t forget to toast a few slices too! It makes fantastic toast.

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