23 October 2010

Guest Blogger : Chillibob on the "Perfect Loaf"

Here it is, a little later than advertised due to unforseen busy-ness, the recipe for what I consider the perfect homebaked white loaf.

People will differ greatly on what makes a loaf of bread perfect.  For me though, the bread has to taste nice, have a thin, soft crust that makes it easy to slice and ideal for sandwiches and a tender crumb with a well risen, open texture.

Naturally, the perfect white loaf must also produce great toast too!

Some may prefer the more traditional white loaf with a crisper, harder crust and a more robust crumb but I'd highly recommend that you give this recipe a try at least once for a bit of a change.

This recipe differs slightly from the norm with the inclusion of a small amount of self raising flour, which helps to produce a lovely tender crumb.  Another difference is the relatively low cooking temperature which, in addition to the butter, makes for a crust which softens on cooling.  Both of these ideas come from my research of japanese and indonesian baking techniques.

So, without further ado, here's the recipe :


Ingredients :

470g Strong bread flour
30g Self raising flour
15g fresh yeast or one 7g sachet of fast acting dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
100ml semi skimmed milk
200ml warmed water
25g butter, cubed,  at room temperature

Method :

1.  Mix the milk and warmed water in a jug and stir in the sugar.  The end temperature of the liquid should be just above blood temperature.  Stir in the yeast until dissolved and set aside until it forms a nice 'head'.  Dried yeast can also be used but I find fresh yeast has a superior flavour.

2.  In a large bowl, mix the two flours and the salt and drop the butter cubes in.  Pour in the yeast liquid and mix to a soft dough before kneading for ten minutes on a floured surface.  I use a Kenwood Chef with a dough hook for this which produces consistently lovely dough.

3. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise for an hour or so in a warm place or until it has more than doubled in size.

4.  After rising, knock back the dough and knead for a further five minutes before forming into an oblong and placing into a buttered (or oiled) loaf tin to rise for another 30 - 40 minutes.  In order to prevent a crust from forming, I put my loaf tin in a very large bowl and cover with clingfilm.

5. Place the loaf into the oven, preheated to 180 degrees C (170 for a fan oven) and bake for 35 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool, during which time the crust will soften.

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