10/07/2014

Baking Bread: Basic Method

Step by step

After some experimentation, I have settled on a multiple-knead method copied from Dan Lepard. He uses it for some specific recipes but I find it works for everything. It's slightly more complicated and takes a longer elapsed time before the bread is ready to rise, but the total knead time is about 2 minutes over an hour, rather than 10 minutes at once. Your arms will thank you, I promise!

Here's the method I use for a loaf in a tin (which is a bit easier than shaping a free-standing load). There are three stages.

Mix and knead:
  1. Mix the flour and yeast together in a large bowl.
  2. Dissolve the salt and sugar in the water.
  3. Add the water to the flour, a little at a time, mixing until you have a rough ball of dough (you may need to add a little extra flour or water).
  4. Cover the bowl and leave for 10 minutes.
  5. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead on a floured surface for about 30 seconds. Form the dough into a ball.
  6. Clean and oil the inside of the bowl.
  7. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover it and leave for 10 minutes.
  8. Repeat the 30 secs knead twice more at 10 minute intervals, then leave for 30 minutes.
  9. Knead once more, then place in the bowl and cover.
Rise:
  1. Leave to rise until the dough has roughly doubled in size (about an hour, can be up to 2 hours).
  2. Take it out, press all the air out, form into a ball again and put it back in the bowl. Leave to rise again.
  3. Prepare a tin by greasing the inside and then dusting the inside with flour.
  4. Once the dough has roughly doubled in size again, take it out and press all the air out. Roll into a sausage a little shorter than the tin and place in the tin.
  5. Leave to rise until roughly doubled in size - usually about an hour or so. The bread is ready when you press a finger in and the dough doesn't spring straight back.
Bake:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to about 220 C with a small baking tray in the bottom.
  2. Boil a kettle and put the water in the baking tray in the oven.
  3. Cut a slash on top of the loaf with a bread knife.
  4. Spray the loaf with water.
  5. Place the loaf in the oven for 10 minutes.
  6. Spray the loaf with water again and reduce the temperature to about 180 C.
  7. Bake for another 30 minutes.
  8. Take the bread out and cool on a wire rack.

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