To make one full sized loaf or 10 to 12 baps you'll need:
700g strong white flour (bread flour)
1/2 tbsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
25g butter (leave out of the fridge to soften for awhile)
1 x 7g sachet of fast action yeast
150ml milk (skimmed, semi-skimmed or whole - any is fine)
300ml warm (not hot!) water
Sift together the flour and salt. Rub in the butter. Mix in the sugar and yeast.
Make a deep well in the centre and pour in the milk and water. Mix together until it's all clinging together but still looks like a bit of a mess.
Lightly flour a work surface and turn the doughy mess out onto it. Knead it for 5 to 10 mins, making sure your work surface is always covered in flour otherwise you'll have bits of bready goo stuck to it. This bit is satisfying and, I think, quite relaxing, as you push and squeeze the dough and it becomes firm, bouncy and smooth. Kneading distributes the yeast and gluten through the dough so it's important to be thorough.
Now oil a large mixing bowl (I use spray oil as it's not messy and gives just a light layer of oil), put your dough into it and cover it with a clean, damp tea towel (recipes tend to say to cover it with oiled cling film but how the hell do you oil cling film?! For me getting it off the roll and over a dish is an achievement). Now leave it somewhere warm to rise for 1 hour. I put the oven on it's lowest setting for 5 mins whilst I'm mixing the dough then turn it off and put the dough in there to rise. If you do this don't use a plastic bowl and make sure the oven's off. Here's the dough before it's first rising:
And here it is after rising for an hour, doubled in size and spongy:
Lightly flour your work surface again. The dough will be a bit sticky on top so sprinkle a little flour onto it before turning it out onto the work surface and kneading it again, though more lightly this time and for just a couple of minutes. This pushes out all the air that's been caused by the yeast fermenting and gives the yeast access to fresh nutrients to get stuck into. It will smell yeasty and lovely by now.
Shape the dough into rolls or a 'rustic' type loaf on a lightly oiled baking sheet or oil a 900g loaf tin and place the dough in. Cover again with the damp tea towel.
***If you want to freeze any of the dough now's the time to do it (it freezes and defrosts very well). There's only two of us in our house so unless we're having guests I split the dough in two, oil a plastic tub, drop in half the dough and freeze it. To defrost it I take it out of the freezer in the morning, put it in an oiled mixing bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave it a room temperature. By late afternoon it's defrosted, then I shape it into rolls or a loaf and continue with the rest of the process as normal.***
|A batch of dough divided into half for baking now and half for freezing|
Turn on the oven to heat to 220C/gas mark 7/425F and leave the dough to rise for 30 mins. Bake for 10 mins for baps or 30 to 40 mins for a full sized loaf. Relish the irresistible bread smell filling your home. Once cooked put on a wire rack to cool and enjoy knowing that you've got fresh bread with less salt, sugar and rubbish than a shop loaf, that hasn't been wrapped in plastic and has cost a fraction of the price.
|A half batch of buns|