To make this loaf you will need the following......
500g/1lb strong white flour
40g/1½oz soft butter (we also use sunflower margarine)
12g/2 sachets fast action dried yeast
2tsp (we use 1tsp) salt
300ml/10¾oz tepid water
A little olive or sunflower oil
You will also need a small roasting tin or deep dish with half an inch of water in the bottom.
Your oven temperature will need to be 220C or Gas Mk 7 but this doesn't need to go on until halfway through the second proving.
With the flour in a large mixing bowl add your yeast on one side of the flour. Then add your salt on the other side of the flour because to put these two directly together will kill the yeast.
Add the butter.....
........and combine all the ingredients.
Make a well in the centre, add half of the tepid water and start to combine the ingredients.
Then add the rest of the water. At this stage you will need to use your fingers to bring all the ingredients together into a soft dough that leaves the sides of the bowl clean.
Use the teaspoon of oil to grease your worksurface and then fold the dough in on itself several times until it is coated in the oil. Knead the dough for 4-5 mins until it starts to become stretchy.
Form the dough into a ball, place it back in the mixing bowl and cover with a teatowel, leaving it to prove at room temperature for an hour........
......after which time it should have at least doubled in size.
The dough should then be turned out on to a floured work surface and kneaded to take out all the air.
Form the dough into it's final loaf shape and add the desired pattern.
Place the dough on a floured or non-stick baking tray and leave to prove for a further hour under the teatowel........
........after which time it will have doubled in size again! (and you should have had your oven pre-heating).
Sprinkle some flour on top of the dough and then put tray into the oven on the middle shelf. You should now put the dish of water in the bottom of the oven - this creates steam which gives the baked loaf a nice crisp crust.
Bake the loaf for 30-40mins or until it has a lovely golden colour.
You can tell if the bread is cooked by holding it upside down in a teatowel (as it will be hot!) and tapping the base, which should sound hollow.
Leave on a wire rack to cool (although it sometimes doesn't get that far in our house, especially if we are having it with homemade soup!)
This recipe and method really does make an excellent loaf that keeps well for several days. Made yesterday, we had some of it for lunch today with tomatoes and Feta cheese and I will be taking some of it to work tomorrow too.
Go on, give it a go!!!