Nelly Elliott

Newcastle based blogger, mama, creative, coffee-only with my oxygen, vegan, plus-size fashion lover and feminist.

@nellyscupcakes

A simple white loaf

Not bad for a first try!


As anybody who follows me on twitter or facebook may be aware, I am a big fan of the Great British Bake-off on BBC2 (Tuesday nights at 8pm). I love the concept; sort of like the masterchef of cakes and other baked goodies. A few of my posts have been inspired by the show and this one is no different.

Last week on the show they tackled bread. I have never attempted to make bread myself, I vaguely remember making it with my Mum as a child but I have never tried it all by myself. So this weekend I set myself the task of making a simple white loaf.

So I pulled out my Great British Bake-off book and found Paul Hollywood's recipe for a basic white loaf, it said it was the prefect starting place for beginners! Brilliant! So off I went to my kitchen...



Ingredients

  • 700g strong bread flour
  • 7g of dried yeast
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • about 450ml warm water (TBC)

  • Bit sticky but looking promising


    I started by mixing the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Once they were well mixed together I then made a well in the middle and poured in the warm water. I poured all of the water in at once, the mixture was very sticky at first and I panicked a little that I had fallen at the first hurdle. But after a few minutes of mixing and deep breathing it started to come together nicely.

    Once it was not as sticky, I turned it out onto a floured surface and started kneading. The mixture was still quite wet so I did add a fair bit more flour at this stage. I was convinced it was all going to go wrong and I could hear Paul Hollywood's voice in my head telling me it was going to be dry and too tough if I added too much flour.

    After about 10 minutes of kneading and flouring it actually started to resemble bread dough! So, I rolled it into a ball and popped it back into the bowl, covered with a damp tea towel and left to rise for about 3-4 hours.

    Doubled in size


    After the 3-4 hours the dough-ball had doubled in size as the recipe said it should (huzzah!)
    Then the recipe stated that I should punch the dough to let out some of the air, which felt a bit weird but strangely cathartic. I then turned it out onto a flour surface for another round of kneading. The bottom of the dough was still a little sticky so was a bit reluctant to leave the bowl, but after some strong words and a bit of coaxing it came out fine!

    I then split the dough into two equal sized balls (I even weighed them to be extra precise) and kneaded for a further 5 minutes.
    Once the kneading was done I rolled them into balls and left them on the bench under a damp tea towel to rise for a further 2 hours.


    I popped them on greasproof paper.


    NOTE TO SELF: Make sure you leave enough room between the two balls to rise, or they start to merge

    Once risen they were ready for baking!
    I made a couple of knife cuts in the top, although I probably need to invest in some sharp knives or a sharpener of some sort.

    jagged beyond belief!


    Before they went in the oven I preheated to 230 and warmed the baking sheet, I also placed a deep roasting tin in the bottom of the oven.

    Once the baking sheet was sufficiently hot I placed the bread onto it and put it in the oven. I then poured a small jug of cold water into the roasting tin which created steam. Apparently this does something to the crust, I am not sure what but Hollywood told me too, so I did it.

    After 15 mins I turned the oven down to 200 and baked for a further 15-20 minutes, I then took the loaf out and tapped the bottom to check it made a hollow noise. I wasn't really sure what noise I was looking for, but it sounded hollow to me and looked golden and lovely! The second loaf was in about 7 minutes longer, and I think it tasted a bit better, less dense/doughy.

    The smell was amazing at this point


    As you can see the one on the left was cooked a little longer, and looks more golden and crisp.
    Although this blog post makes it sound like it was quite hard work, it was actually surprisingly easy and as there was a lot of time between rising and baking it allowed me time to prepare other things and get the housework done. I am definitely going to make bread again, I really enjoyed it and it went down very well! It was perfect for packed lunches and kept really well.


    Oh look at that crumb!


    I want to try shaping the dough into a proper loaf shape, making bread rolls and then maybe a wholemeal or granary version.