Oh this baking bread is a selfish addiction. I just love it. This bread recipe is by Paul Merrit from one of my fave shows on at the moment Economy Gastronomy. I love it so much I bought the cookbook from the UK! Imagine my joy that there is a bread section in the recipe book!
So this recipe makes three loaves, I know it seems like a lot but please do make it this way and freeze the other two loaves. It's deliciously crunchy on the outside and spongy on the inside - perfect for dipping into your soup. I made a quickie curry lentil soup and bless, it was perfect! Just the ticket to warm yourself up!
I felt compelled to
1 kg strong plain flour (I used tipo 00 - this can be found at the supermarket)
550ml water (warm)
20g fresh yeast or 1 tsp dried yeast (I have fresh, but it's near impossible to get unless you have 'connections')
a dish of salted water
a little extra flour for dusting.
Combine yeast, water flour and salt in your mixer or in a bowl. Combine well with a spoon or your dough-hook and then remove and knead by hand or with your mixer for about 4 minutes with the hook (on lowest setting), or 10 minutes by hand.
Leave the bowl in a warm place and cover with clingfilm or a damp teatowel for an hour or until it has doubled in size
Preheat your oven to 240 degrees c (or 220 fan)
Punch back the dough, (i.e. expel the air - like my punch mark?) and then turn out onto a floured surface.
Divide the dough into three even-ish bits.
Roll them out into your loaves. Paul suggests you make ovals by pinching from the centre of the dough and folding under, it works! Place onto greased trays, score the top with a sharp knife down the centre (to prevent splitting during baking) and dust tops with extra flour.
Now for the tricky bit - well not really but take note - This gives the crust it's wow factor:
Place the loaves in the oven.
After 8 minutes leave open the oven door and leave open for 2 minutes, turn the oven temperature down to 190 degrees c (170 fan) close the door and leave to bake for a further 30 minutes.
Cool on wire rack and try to resist serving immediately with big blobs of salty butter - I dare you!
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