White Loaf

The White Loaf Recipe Mastering a classic white loaf should be a rite of passage for all amateur bakers. Nothing beats the taste of fresh, crusty white bread, still warm from the oven.

Rising and proofing time:
2–3 hrs

4 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp fine salt
2 tsp dried yeast
1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing

1 Put the flour and salt into a large bowl. In a small bowl, dissolve the dried yeast in 1 1⁄4 cups warm water. Once it has dissolved, add the oil.

2 Make a well in the center of the flour. Pour in the liquid, stirring to form a rough dough. Use your hands to bring the dough together.

3 Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth, glossy, and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and leave to rise in a warm place for up to 2 hours, until twice its size.

4 When the dough has risen, put it onto a floured surface and knock it back to its original size. Knead it and shape it into the desired shape; I prefer a long, curved oval shape known as a bloomer.

5 Place the dough on a baking sheet, cover it with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and leave it to rise in a warm place until risen and doubled. This could take 30 minutes–1 hour.

6 The bread is ready when it is tight and well risen, and a finger poked into the dough leaves a dent, which springs back quickly.

7 Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).

8 Place one oven rack in the middle of the oven, and one below it, close to the bottom of the oven. Bring a small pan of water to a boil. Now slash the top of the loaf 2 or 3 times with a knife diagonally.

9 This will allow the bread to continue to rise in the oven. Dust the top with flour, if wanted, and place it on the middle rack.

10 Place a roasting pan on the bottom rack of the oven and then quickly pour the boiling water into it and shut the door. This will allow steam to be created in the oven and help the bread to rise.

11 Bake the bread for 10 minutes, then reduce to 375°F (190°C) and bake it for 30–35 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.

12 Reduce to 350°F (180°C) if it is starting to brown too quickly. Remove the bread from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Best eaten the day it is made, the loaf will store, well wrapped, in an airtight container overnight.

Tempting as it may be to taste the loaf as soon as it comes out of the oven, try to leave the bread to cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting. This will vastly improve the taste and texture of the finished loaf.

White Loaf Recipe
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