This is a “hodge podge” of old fashioned English and French rustic bread recipes; the bread dough is made up ahead of time and stored (in the old days) in an earthenware crock or bowl, with a lid. You tear a piece of the dough off as and when you want to bake a loaf of bread. Easy!
900g strong white bread flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 x 7g sachets dried fast action yeast (or 25g fresh yeast, added to a little warm water with 1 teaspoon honey or sugar)
650mls tepid water
This is a “hodge podge” of old fashioned English and French rustic bread recipes; the bread dough is made up ahead of time and stored (in the old days) in an earthenware crock or bowl, with a lid. You tear a piece of the dough off as and when you want to bake a loaf of bread. Easy! You can add other types of flour to the basic white batch, as long as the ratio remains the same – you can mix rye or whole wheat flour with the white, or add herbs, onions, seeds, fruit and other flavourings.
Pour the warm water into a large mixing bowl – the water should be tepid or hand warm – NOT too hot, as it will kill the yeast.
Add the yeast to the water and then the salt, mix well.
Add ALL the flour and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a dough hook until all the ingredients are amalgamated – NO need to over knead.
Leave the bread dough in the mixing bowl and cover loosely – I use a shower cap to cover my dough! (That is NOT used as a shower cap any more, I hasten to add!)
Allow to prove for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
The dough can now be stored in the fridge or you can use the dough to make a loaf of bread immediately.
If baking a loaf of bread now, pre-heat the oven and place a baking sheet or pizza tray in there. Tear off a large ball, about the size of a small melon, and knead it for about 1 minute with floured hands and on a floured board, Shape it as desired (Rolls, Cob, Cottage Loaf, Boule, Baguette or Bannette etc) or place it in a greased and floured loaf tin. Allow to prove and rise for a further 20 to 30 minutes. Slash the surface with a sharp serrated knife if you wish, see photos. You can add a glaze or special finish at this point.
Bake at 225C/450F for 30 minutes or until well risen, brown and the loaf sounds hollow when it is tapped on the underside. (If you wish, you can add a bowl of boiling water as soon as you put the bread into the oven – this steams and bakes the loaf to give a good chewy texture and keeps the inside moist.)
Remove the bread when baked and cool on a cooling rack. Serve warm with butter, cheese, jam, hams and cold cuts, or slice when cool for sandwiches. Also wonderful when toasted the next day.
Store the excess dough in the mixing bowl, loosely covered, in the fridge or somewhere cool until needed – this will keep for 2 weeks, but I find it has all gone by 7 to 10 days! This amount of dough will make between 4 and 5 loaves of bread, depending on the shape and amount of dough you use.