When I was a kid, every morning on my way to school I walked pass a small local bakery. Until today I can remember the amazing smell of freshly baked bread. And I mean real sourdough bread, fermented the proper way, with no shortcuts and additives (that I was taught about in a pastry course at college).
Fresh yeast can be replaced with instant yeast, but you won’t get the fresh, strong taste and smell.
Maybe I just haven’t discovered the right place yet here in Cheshire, but I really miss the taste and smell of a real, honest sourdough bread here in the North West. So I had no choice, but start baking my own bread at home.
It can be a challenge. Sometimes it comes up flat, sometimes it cracks on a wrong place, sometimes the baking sheet goes on fire… (bread should be baked on the highest temperature your oven can reach, usually it’s 250C, but baking sheets can only take up to 220C :D). To bake the perfect bread can take a few tries, fails,…but it’s well worth it!
To ensure the bread is baked, remove from the oven and knock on the bottom side, if it sounds hollow, your bread is baked.
RECIPE: Easy white bread
- 1 cube (42g) fresh yeast (can be replaced with instant yeast, but it doesn’t have the fresh, strong taste)
- 350ml warm tap water (try with your hand, it must feel “nice” – luke warm, not too hot, not to cold)
- 500g plain flour (+ some for kneading)
- 2tsp salt
- Fill a big bowl with the water, crumble the yeast and mix. Then leave for about 10-15 minutes until it starts forming little bubbles. That’s a sign the yeast is active.
- Sieve the flour and add gradually to the yeast mixture together with the salt. Mix until the dough is smooth.
- Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen cloth and leave it in room temperature for 30 minutes (it should double in size).
- Mix again, it will loose it volume. Cover and leave for 60 minutes.
- Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead for at least 10 minutes. The dough should be elastic and not sticky.
- Place in a clean bowl or floured bread proving basket, cover with the cloth and leave for 60 minutes.
- After 50 minutes, heat the oven to maximum temperature, leave the baking tray inside.
- When the oven is hot, prepare a baking sheet, toss the loaf onto the sheet, transfer onto the hot baking tray and splash some cold water into the oven (it will form the crust on the bread, can also be sprayed or you can place another baking tray with a few ice cubes into the oven).
- Bake on the highest temperature for 15minutes, then lower to 190C and bake for another 35minutes (or until the crust is golden). To ensure the bread is baked, remove from the oven and knock on the bottom side, if it sounds hollow, your bread is baked. If not, return and bake longer on a low temperature, about 150C.