Basic White Bread

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Basic White Bread
I have always enjoyed making (and eating!) bread, but my repertoire has been fairly limited. Lately I have been experimenting with all sorts of recipes. I have had some great successes and have had some impressive failures. The thing about bread making is that if your dough is too tough you can end up with a rock. It can also be very hard to work out what exactly goes wrong with a dud bread. You try a recipe that clearly works for someone else, but you just can’t make it do the right thing for you. It can be very frustrating!

So when you find a good simple reliable recipe that works for you, hang onto it!!

This recipe is a great starting point. I have made it many many times and it always works. It makes a medium density white loaf with beautifully crunchy crusts.

Recipe

• 2 T polenta
• 800 g bread flour
• 15 g instant yeast
• 2 t salt
• 2 T sugar
• 600 ml warm water

Preheat oven to 50C for rising the dough. Lightly oil 2 loaf pans, and dust each with 1 T polenta.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Pour in water and mix to a stiff dough. Place into a large oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Lightly knead dough until it feels smooth and slightly elastic. This dough can be kneaded gently, pushing down with the heel of your palm and then folding the dough back onto itself. You want this dough to remain light and soft, so it doesn’t need too much pummelling and prodding.

Place each loaf into a pan and dust with flour. Using a sharp knife cut 3 slashes into each loaf. Place back in oven, uncovered, to rise for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and turn oven temperature up to 200C, returning the pans to the oven when the correct temperature has been reached. Bake until loaf tops are golden and they sound hollow when you tap them.

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About baking bohemian

My name is Jen and I am the baking bohemian. My blog identity comes from the cultural background of my mother’s family, (Bohemian), and my mother’s more left wing lifestyle (bohemian). The big ‘B’ Bohemian refers to the rich cultural heritage of our family that emigrated from Bohemia when it was still its own country (it now comprises two thirds of the Czech Republic). Food featured prominently in the family and broader social life of that part of my family. No social interaction was without sustenance, and any celebration, large or small, was an invitation to cook up a storm. My own family emigrated from the United States to Australia when I was a child. For the most part we lived with our mother, and my dad eventually moved back to the US. The little ‘b’ bohemian relates to the semi-alternative lifestyle we led with our mother. I hesitate to refer to her as a hippy, for that conjures up so many misconceptions, but certainly she was on that side of the fence. She was probably more eccentric than radical at the end of the day, but she could really cook. We always set extra plates at the dinner table because inevitably people would visit at dinner time. I started cooking when I was about eight. Cookies. Obviously I was motivated by desire! I loved cooking, I loved that the kitchen was always, in every way, the heart of the house, so I was always part of anything else that was happening while I was cooking. I loved people loving my food. With all the different things that I have done in my life and am interested in, food has remained my most consistent and enduring passion.

2 responses »

  1. I still haven’t managed to make a yeast bread yet. Kind of nervous about it as it’s so damp where I live as it’s minutes from the sea. Hmm…I’ve heard of using the oven on low heat to ensure the yeast will rise. Let’s hope so!

    • My grandmother was a master of yeast dough. She would use a warm dry place for quick rising, but would often leave it to rise in her refrigerator overnight. She also believed, contrary to common belief, that less is more when it comes to kneading. It’s worth experimenting with it!! jen

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