I thought I’d make the very first recipe I ever record a video for something that everyone should be able to make: a lovely, fresh loaf of homemade bread.
I’ve heard so many people say that they “can’t bake” or “making bread is too hard”. It’s really not. All you need is some basic ingredients and just a little patience, which is pretty much the key to any form of baking, not just bread. Sure, you can just go out to any shop and buy a loaf of bread, but there really something wonderful about baking your own loaf of bread. Not just the taste, but aroma while it’s baking, and the sense of satisfaction and achievement you get from it. Plus, you know exactly what’s gone into it, and it’s not full of the preservatives and other rubbish that goes into the store-bought loaves of bread. Sure, this recipe doesn’t have the shelf life of a store-bought loaf, but it’s so nice that it probably won’t last very long until it’s all been eaten anyway! Alternatively, if you don’t eat bread every day, you can slice the loaf up yourself and then pop it in the freezer so that it doesn’t go stale and simply defrost it, or pop it straight in the toaster.
The wonderful thing about this recipe is that it gives you the basis for other kinds of loaf of bread, and you can vary this recipe up in your own way. You can use all white flour, or all wholemeal flour, or half of each, or half white flour and half rye flour. It really is up to you. Each type of flour behaves slightly differently and needs slightly more or less water depending on the type, but this is something you’ll pick up pretty quickly.
There really is no reason not to give this a go. I promise you, once you’ve baked your own loaf of fresh bread you really won’t go back to a pre-sliced loaf from the shops.
This recipe can be made either by hand, or with a stand mixer, but I think everyone should always have a go at their first loaf by getting their hands messy!
Classic Bread LoafPrint Recipe
- 500g Strong Bread Flour (plus a little extra for flouring)
- 10g Fast Action Dried Yeast
- 10g Salt
- 30ml Olive Oil
- Up to 350ml of tepid water (about body temperature)
- A little oil for greasing (Low-cal spray oil will do fine)
Put the flour into a large mixing bowl or preferably, if you have one, into a stand mixer.
Add the yeast to one side of the bowl, and then add the salt to the OTHER side of the bowl. (If you put the salt straight on top of the yeast, you'll kill the yeast and won't get a good rise.)
Add the oil into the bowl on top of the salt.
Pour in MOST of the water into the bowl and slowly start mixing with a wooden spoon or your fingers if you're using a mixing bowl, or on a medium-slow speed if you're using a mixing bowl.
Gradually add more of the water into the bowl until the mixture starts to form into a soft, pliable dough that leaves the bowl clean.
Now, if you're using stand mixer turn it to a medium speed and let it work the dough for approximately 10 minutes. If you're using your hands, very lightly oil a work surface (a lot of people use flour, but this can alter your flour/water ratio if you use too much) and tip the dough onto this surface and just turn it over so all sides are coated in oil. Now, knead the dough. To do this, stretch the dough forward with the heel of your hand and then fold it back in on itself. Then turn the dough by 90 degrees and repeat this process over and over, again for approximately 10 minutes. Work fairly quickly so the dough doesn't stick to your hands, but if it does you can lightly flour your hands. It might get a bit tiring, but bear with it!
In both instances, you should be left with a dough that leaves either the bowl or work surface clean, and the dough should be soft and should spring back into shape when you press your finger into it gently.
Lightly oil a large bowl (it'll need room to rise) and place your dough into it and then either cover the bowl with oiled cling film or even a shower cap will do!
Leave the dough in a warm room to rise until it's approximately doubled in size, this can take 1 to 2 hours depending on how warm the room is. Make sure the room isn't too hot though, as this will cause the yeast to do its thing too fast!
Once the dough has risen, lightly oil a 900g (2lb) loaf tin. Now, gently knock the air out of dough with your knuckles, and take it out of the bowl and shape it so that it can fit into the loaf tin. Try to have any folds or seams where you've shaped the dough. You'll get the best effect with one continuous shape.
Cover the tin lightly with a clean tea towel, and leave to rise again in the same warm room for an hour or again until it's double in size.
Towards the end of the rise, preheat an oven to 220°C (200°C fan-assisted)/425°F/Gas Mark 7, and place a small roasting tin in the very bottom of the oven.
Once the dough has finished it's rise, uncover the tin and lightly flour the top of the dough with the extra flour. Now, using a very sharp knife or razorblade, carefully make a slash down the top of the loaf but taking care not to go from end to end or knocking the air out of the loaf.
Now, in the oven, pour some water into the roasting tin in the bottom of the oven, this will create steam and give you a great crust on your bread! Then place the loaf onto the middle shelf and leave to bake for around 30 minutes.
The loaf will be ready once it's risen and golden brown. To make sure, gently (and carefully as it's hot!) tip it out of it's tin and tap the loaf. If it sounds hollow, it's done. Turn onto a wire rack to cool, and then enjoy!
If you have any feedback on this recipe, do let me know and I can adjust it accordingly.