Cakes & Bakes: Simple plain white loaf

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Simple, home-made plain white loaf with Cambozola cheese | H is for Home

A good recipe for a simple plain white loaf is an essential in your home baking repertoire. This is an easy to make, easy to remember recipe – 100% flour, 60% water, 2% salt, 1% dried yeast.

This ratio of ingredients means the quantities can be multiplied easily depending on how many loaves you want to make. Just like a basic sponge cake recipe, it can be adapted to make all manner of variations. I regularly use this recipe as a starting point for other kinds of loaves…

  • Use half white, half wholemeal flour.
  • Add mixed seeds & nuts such as poppy, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
  • Add dried fruit such as raisins, currents, sultanas (pre-soaked for a few hours in ) and/or chopped dried figs with a teaspoon of cinnamon and tablespoon of honey or maple syrup.
  • Simply kneading in a teaspoon of caraway seeds makes one of my favourite loaves!

The quantities below make one medium-sized loaf.

Cakes & Bakes: Simple plain white loaf

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 1 medium loaf

Cakes & Bakes: Simple plain white loaf

Ingredients

  • 500g/18oz plain flour
  • 300ml/10.5 fl oz warm water
  • 10g/⅓oz salt
  • 5g/⅙oz active dried yeast
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Instructions

  1. sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl
  2. add the yeast to the warm water (no hotter than blood temperature) and mix together
  3. make a well in the dry flour & salt mixture and pour in the water & yeast mix
  4. fold the flour from the edges into the centre of the mixing bowl to combine well
  5. lightly dust a tabletop with flour and knead the dough well for about 10 minutes until smooth
  6. form the dough into a ball and put it back into the mixing bowl
  7. cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or oiled cling film (Saran wrap) - I use a very large, clear plastic bag which I reuse over & over again
  8. leave to prove for 60-90 minutes (depending on the temperature of the room) until the dough has doubled in size
  9. lightly dust a tabletop with flour and knock the dough back and form it into an oblong and put it into a greased 500g/1lb rectangular loaf tin
  10. put the tin back into the bowl and cover again with a damp tea towel or oiled cling film
  11. leave to prove again for 60-90 minutes until the dough has doubled in size
  12. preheat the oven to 240ºC/465ºF/Gas mark 9, put an empty roasting dish on the bottom shelf of the oven and fill a cup with cold water and set aside
  13. when the loaf has proved, use a small serrated knife or grignette to score the top
  14. Quickly & carefully pour the cup of water into the roasting dish before putting the loaf into the oven
  15. After 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 200ºC/ 400ºF/Gas mark 6
  16. Bake for a further 20-25 minutes before taking it out of the oven, removing from the tin and tapping on the base. If it sounds hollow it's done
  17. Leave to cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour before use
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