Basic White Loaf

Serves: Makes a 1kg loaf

Difficulty: Moderate

Every keen baker needs a good go-to basic white loaf recipe, and this is mine.

This is an enriched bread recipe as it uses milk, eggs and butter to add more flavour and makes a softer bread. And I’ve chosen to use fresh yeast, but you can use dried yeast instead (see my tip below for substitute quantities).

Ingredients

  • 15g fresh yeast (see my tip for dried yeast)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 290ml milk, scalded and cooled until lukewarm
  • 450g plain flour (strong bread flour is best), plus extra for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 30g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 kg loaf tin, lightly greased with butter

Method

1. Mix the yeast with the sugar and a few tablespoons of the warm milk. It mustn't be too hot or the yeast will die, so make sure it is lukewarm (best temp is 27°C).

2. Tip the flour into a large bowl and stir through the salt. Make a well in the centre.

3. Mix the remaining milk with the beaten egg and butter.

4. Once the yeast mixture has started to foam, pour into the well and add 3/4 of the milk mixture. Start mixing the dough until it starts coming together. You can add more liquid if it's too dry, and a little more flour if too wet. As soon as it starts coming away from the sides of the bowl you are ready to knead it.

5. Tip onto a clean work surface and knead the dough by stretching it to develop the gluten. It will get dryer as you knead. Only use a little extra flour if it's sticking to your surface. It's better to have a wetter dough than a dry one.

6. After around 10 minutes it should be soft, smooth and elastic (5 minute if using a machine). Pop back in the bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to double in size. This could take anything from 20 minutes or a few hours depending on how warm it is.

7. Once risen, knock back the dough by kneading again for 1 minute. Shape it into an oblong and place into the greased loaf tin. Cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.

8. In the meantime, preheat an oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Once the dough has risen, lightly dust with flour and spray with a little water. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25-30 minutes until risen and golden brown. Do not open the oven to check on it for the first 20 minutes. Check it's baked by tapping the top and bottom of the loaf, it should sound hollow.

9. Carefully remove from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

10. Serve warm spread with lots of good salted butter.

Anjali's Tip Dried yeast is a good substitute for fresh yeast and needs to be sponged in lukewarm liquid and sugar before adding to dry ingredients to activate it. You only need half the quantity (so 7g in this recipe) and it takes slightly longer than fresh yeast. Fast-action dried yeast can be mixed directly with the flour. You only need a quarter compared to fresh yeast, which means you only need 3 1/2 g in this recipe. Happy Baking!


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