Friday, 15 October 2010

White Farmhouse Loaf - traditional method

I was pleased with the bread - light, airy and a great chewy texture.

I was baking again.  Yup, bread.  There's something about that white, soft, texture that is comforting.  Whenever I have an attack of the munchies - there's always good ol' bread to turn to.  I have 1001 things I could be doing with what time I manage to get between my baby son's feeds, but I choose to blog-hop.  It's whilst doing that when I stumble upon a beautifully risen, golden crusted loaf in The British Larder.  That's done it!  I have to go bake me one!  Well, you gotta eat!

It's quite a simple recipe and with the aid of trusty ol' Kenwood Mixer, nothing is too difficult!  The blog recipe makes 2 x 600g loaves and mixes and kneads by hand.  My version uses the mixer for making and kneading the dough - with a crying baby to attend to I find using the mixer a great help.  Hubbs isn't a bread fiend like me, so one loaf will suffice.

I've tweaked it a little, but this is what I used:

375 g strong bread flour (white)
7 g fresh yeast
7 g salt (bit too salty for my liking, I'd reduce to 5 g next time)
260 g warm water (it is cold in UK now, so I thought warm water would help things along)
15 g butter (I remember reading butter improves taste and helps the bread remain moist)

Rub the yeast into the flour with your fingertips until the yeast is incorporated into the flour.
Stir in the salt.
Add the warm water and with the dough hook attachment, turn mixer on to mix until a dough is formed.
Add the butter and continue to mix until a smooth and elastic dough is achieved.  There should be no sticky dough left at the bottom of the bowl.
I left the mixer on speed 2 for 10 minutes and checked the dough.  It was sticky and like chewing gum, not a great stretch.
I turned the mixer back on and kneaded for 10 more minutes.   This time the dough was more stretchy and resembled bubble gum.  I was able to pull it fairly thinly before it broke.
I turned the dough onto a board and covered with greased cling film for 1 hour to double in size.
I pressed and patted the dough into a rectangle and folded the sides in.  I guess this is to tighten the surface of the dough so it will rise upwards rather than outwards.  I kept tucking the sides of the sausage shaped dough in underneath the dough so I had a smooth long sausage shape to put into my greased loaf tin.
The dough was left for 2 hours under a clean dry tea-towel to prove.
I baked the loaf at 220C, gas 7 for 30 minutes.  I turned the dough out and the base sounded hollow when tapped so I left it to cool on a rack.

I did slash the loaf after rising along the length but I guess I was too scared to do it deeply enough!  Oh, and a farmhouse loaf is usually floured before baking - forgot that step too!

The bread is wonderfully moist and soft.  It has a lovely chew about the bread but is a tad too salty for my palate.  That said, when buttered, you don't taste the saltiness but I would still reduce the salt content next time.  All in all, I was impressed with the results especially as it wasn't complicated or needed any starter dough, sponge dough or pre-ferment dough.  The slices of bread are still moist and soft now after 8 hours!  I'm keen to find out what it's like in the morning!

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