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.
• 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.