Enriched white bread  

This is your everyday loaf, the one for the kids’ sandwiches and smotherings of butter and jam. While producing a great white loaf, it is also a fantastic all-purpose dough. Makes 2 small loaves or 12 small dinner rolls.

Ingredients:

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon salt
  • 10g fresh yeast/5g dried yeast
  • 300ml water
  • 50ml olive oil or rapeseed oil
  • 2 x 400g loaf tins or two baking trays 

Waste not, want not

Adapt this all-purpose enriched white bread dough to suit your needs. For focaccia, flatten it out using the tips of your fingers till it’s about 2cm in thickness with the characteristic dimples you would expect. Cover generously in olive oil and the toppings of your choice. Prove for 40 minutes. Give a final drizzle of olive oil and bake at 230ºC/gas mark 8 for 15 minutes and you will have yourself a great focaccia. Or better yet, a 200g portion of dough rolled thin produces a fantastic 12-inch pizza base. Get yourself a pizza stone or improvise with an upturned roasting tray. Preheat the oven to its highest setting and cook the pizza directly on the stone/roasting tray. And if you find yourself with a bit of surplus dough, don’t let it go to waste. Roll the dough as thinly as possible. Cut it into shards and arrange on a floured baking tray. Bake at 160ºC/gas mark 2V for about 10 minutes or until crisp and you will have an array of crackers better than anything shop-bought.

Method:

  1. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Crumble the yeast into the water so that it dissolves. Add the water and olive oil to the well.
  2. Bring the dough together with your hands or with a spatula. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes or until the windowpane effect has been achieved (see page 24). The dough should be soft and elastic. Don’t worry if the dough is very sticky at first and resist the urge to add more flour – persevere with the kneading and oil your hands if necessary.
  3. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel or wrap in clingfilm and leave to prove for 60 to 90 minutes, until doubled in size.
  4. Turn the proved dough out and knock it back using your fists.
  5. Divide the dough into two equal portions, then shape it into two loaves and place into two 450g loaf tins or, if you prefer, a large family loaf, just use a 900g tin. Cover and allow to prove again for about 50-60 minutes. Your loaf should come to just below the rim of your loaf tin.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Place a roasting tray into the base of the oven. When ready to bake, place the loaves into the oven and pour in water from a boiling kettle into the hot roasting tray, which should release a blast of steam. Bake the loaves for about 35- 40 minutes. 
  7. Remove from the tins and cook for a further eight minutes just to firm up the sides. Resist the temptation to get stuck in until the loaf cools. Enjoy.

Recipe Series: Breaking Bread

Discover the joys of baking your own bread with expert baker Patrick Ryan of the Firehouse Bakery, who takes us back to basics and beyond.

Recipes in this series:

Patrick Ryan

Patrick Ryan