It’s hard to make bread at home that is as light and soft as the ones from the shops, I think the hydrogenated fats they tend to use in mass produced breads are to blame. I have been testing a couple of recipes, changing a few things here and there, mixing white bread and focaccia recipes, always incorporating olive oil, and have finally found a reliable recipe that makes a soft bread with a lot of personality. If only bread had its own personality and voice that is.
I added some herbs and sesame seeds to make it more interesting, then I had some of it just dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and some with butter, and it was delicious. Warm bread is always nice, but a good bread is nice even when not warm, this is one of those. I intend to make it next time with some chopped olives and sundried tomatoes, then it will almost be a meal in itself!
There isn’t a secret in this bread, it’s dead easy, but kneading and proving are the keys in bread making, so arm yourself with patience and a strong arm (arm yourself with an arm? That’s funny). Or a KitchenAid with the kneading attachment.
400g white bread flour
2 level tsp quick action yeast (I use this one)
1 level tsp salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
500ml lukewarm water
1. Preheat oven to 200C.
2. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.
3. Stir in the water and olive oil, mixing well.
4. Knead the dough until smooth, like a hard pillow. Cover the bowl with cling film and allow to prove until doubled in size, which takes approximately 1hour, in a warm place.
5. Once the dough has risen, it needs to be knocked down by simply punching all the air out of it with your fist. Mould into the loaf tins or shapes you desire. Glaze with a little olive oil and allow to prove again for a further 20-30 minutes, covering the dough with cling film again (the olive oil won’t allow it to stick to the cling film).
6. Bake in the oven for around 30-40 minutes, or 45 for the larger loaf. The crust should be dry, very firm, and a deep golden brown colour with darker spots here and there. Take the loaf out of the oven and turn it upside down, and give the bottom of the loaf a sharp tap with your knuckles, the bread will sound hollow when it’s done.