Saturday, 30 August 2008

White Bread

Ingredients:
3 lbs of strong white flour
1 oz salt (six full-size teaspoons, but actually a bit less would be better)
1-2 oz lard
1 oz of fresh yeast
1 tsp of sugar
1 1/2 pints of warm water (for instructions on temperature see below)
  1. Put the yeast into a teacup and add the teaspoon of sugar. Cream well.
  2. Weigh up the flour into a large bowl
  3. Add the salt and rub in the lard
  4. Make up the warm water as follows: boil the kettle. Fill the measuring jug with one third boiling water and two thirds cold water from the tap. This should give you the sort of warmth that yeast likes best. Pour one pint of this warm water into your bread mixture and stir with a knife.
  5. Make up the remaining half pint of water to the same temperature.
  6. Pour a little of this warm water into the cup with the yeast (which should by now have become liquid). Stir it and wait until the yeast starts to bubble merrily.
  7. Pour the yeast liquid and the remainder of the half pint of warm water into your bread mixture. Stir well with the knife and then knead it by hand until all the flour is absorbed and you have a springy ball of dough that leaves your hands clean.
  8. Lift it out onto a clean smooth surface and knead it hard to stretch the proteins.
  9. Form it into a ball and put it back in the bowl. Put the bowl in a large plastic bag and leave in a warm room for an hour to rise.
  10. An hour later, take the bread out again and knead it on the smooth clean surface as before.
  11. Grease two large bread tins, or three 2 lb tins, or some mixture of tins and a baking sheet (if you're intending to make a weird shape of loaf or rolls).
  12. Divide the bread into suitable portions, by pressing it with the side of your hand, rolling it back and forth, until you've cut right through it.
  13. Put the dough in the tins. To make a plait loaf, cut one of the portions into three (rolling it with the side of your hand as before), pull/roll the three pieces into sausage shapes, and plait them on a greased baking sheet, securing the ends well together. To make a cottage loaf, divide the portion into two unequal lumps. Put the larger lump on a greased baking sheet, and put the smaller lump on top. Stick a metal skewer down the middle through both layers. To make rolls, cut the dough in the same way into halves, quarters, eighths, and place on a greased baking sheet.
  14. Put the loaves into the large plastic bag and leave to rise for 45 minutes to one hour. When they are risen and puffy, brush the top with milk or beaten egg and bake them in a hot oven for 42 minutes.
450º F, Gas mark 8, 220º C, Fan oven maximum temperature.
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