Rule 1 – use good quality flour, as low quality does not have the same gluten content.
Rule 2 – the window test: stretch the dough between two fingers (as shown in the picture above). You are looking for a stretch like texture – as thin as it well go.
Rule 3 – double proof it before it goes in the oven. This is very important. After you have double proofed it, leave it somewhere warm for at least 1 hour before it goes in the oven.
Ok, so they were my rules. Now here is a recipe for a simple white loaf:
• 500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
• 2tsp salt
• 7g sachet fast-action yeast
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• 300ml water
As regards flavours, you can use anything really that you have in the fridge in moderation and just knead it into the bread e.g. sundried tomatoes, herbs, cheese, figs etc
- Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, then add the oil and water, and mix well. If the dough seems a little stiff, add 1-2 tbsp water, mix well then tip onto a lightly floured work surface and knead. Once the dough is satin-smooth, place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Leave to rise for 1 hour until doubled in size or place in the fridge overnight.
- Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Knock back the dough, then gently mould the dough into a ball. Place it on the baking parchment to proof for a further hour until doubled in size.
- Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Dust the loaf with flour and cut a cross about 6cm long into the top of the loaf with a sharp knife. Bake for 25-30 mins until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.
I hope you enjoy making this. Feel free to ask any questions or suggest your own ingredients to add a burst of flavour to your bread. We would love to hear them……