Anyone who has ever made bread will understand how great a feeling it is to make and eat your own baked loaf. It tastes a million times better than shop bought, and no matter how many loaves you bake - you still feel satisfied every time you knead your dough into a perfect smooth ball, watch it rise and then shape it into a beautiful loaf ready for baking.
Nothing more beautiful is there than a perfectly baked loaf with a nice crunchy crust...if bread and butter was the last food left on earth I would still be happy as long as it was home baked.
Basic white or wholemeal loaf - 1 loaf
500g strong bread flour (white or wholemeal)
2 teaspoons of salt
7g fast acting yeast
300ml - 350ml lukewarm water - about 1 third hot water to 2 thirds cold
Weigh out the flour, add the salt and mix.
Add the yeast to the water, stir and leave to stand for a few minutes.
Fit the dough hook and turn on to speed one and slowly pour in the water.
You may not need all the water - you don't want the dough to be sticky and slopping around, but you don't want it too dry and floury either - it should be just right and as you knead it you will see it become smooth and will form a nice round ball.
If it is too sloppy because you have added too much water then just add a little more flour.
You can increase the speed to around 2 and knead in total for around 3 minutes.
After kneading, remove the dough hook and dough from the mixer bowl.
Shape dough into a nice round ball.
Pour a small dash of olive oil into the bowl and put the dough back into the bowl, turn in the olive oil to cover the surface of the dough all round.
Place a smaller bowl over the top of the mixer bowl as a lid and leave to rise in a nice warm place for an hour (or until double in size) to ferment and develop flavour.
When well risen, knock the dough back by hand by gently punching the dough to release the air.
Now you can start to shape the dough.
The dough should have enough olive oil on its surface to not stick to your counter, though if it does you can lightly flour the surface or use a small dash more olive oil if it is sticking - don't use too much though as you don't want to sufficiently add to your ingredients so that it changes the recipe.
Press the dough into a rectangular shape, then fold one edge over to cover two thirds of the dough, then fold the other edge up to cover that third.
Rotate the dough 90 degrees and do the same so as to form a nice loaf.
Either place this now into an oiled loaf tin, or place on an oiled baking sheet if you want a rounder flatter shaped loaf.
Alternatively, after knocking back the dough, reshape into a smooth ball and place on an oiled baking sheet.
Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise again in that nice warm place for 30 minutes or so until once again doubled in size.
Preheat the oven meanwhile to 250 degrees, and place an empty roasting tin in the bottom of the oven.
When risen, remove the cling film, slash the dough with a sharp knife and sprinkle some flour on top of the loaf.
Place the loaf in the oven and pour a glass of cold water into the roasting tin to create some steam whilst the bread bakes.
Bake for around 40 minutes, then remove the loaf from the tin or baking tray and place directly on the shelf for another 10 minutes or so.
To test if the dough is cooked, remove from the oven and tap the bottom of the loaf - it should sound hollow when it is cooked properly.
Now go buy some tasty fillings from The Honeypot & enjoy!