If you are new to bread baking, try out this simple recipe. It's made with all purpose flour. Once you master this recipe move on to using a combination of flours. Few pointers to keep in mind : You may not need all the water mentioned in the recipe as all flours behave differently. You may need a little more or less water than metioned in the recipe. The key is that when you start kneading, the dough should feel very sticky. I have used instant yeast but you can use dry active yeast also. To bloom active dry yeast, take 2 tbsp tepid warm water. Add honey to it. Now sprinkle yeast. Mix it. Let it sit for 10 minutes. It will bloom up. Add this to autolysed dough. If the yeast doesn't bloom , either it's dead or you killed it by using hot water. Discard that mixture and start all over again.
Ingredients All Purpose Flour 450 gms Milk powder 50 gms Honey 1 tbsp Instant yeast 1 1/ 2 tsp Salt 1 1/2 tsp Water 290-300 ml approximately Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2 tbsp
Mix flour and milk powder in a bowl.
Add water little by little till there is no dry flour and it's all mixed well.
You may not need all the water now.
Do not knead .
Cover and leave it for 30 minutes.
This process of mixing flour and water and letting it rest for sometime is called autolyse.
Now tranfer the dough to clean counter top.
Add honey and yeast.
Mix it well.
Sprinkle salt all over the dough and start kneading.
If you find the dough is tight add one tbsp water at a time and continue keading.
The dough should feel very sticky.
Do not be tempted to add more flour, instead oil your hands and knead using the heel of your palms.
Push the dough outward , then fold it back, rotate it a little and push again.
Incorporate the oil slowly while kneading.
Knead for good 12-15 minutes.
Slowly you will see that the dough has turned smooth and is not sticking to your hands.
Take a small piece of dough and stretch it between your fingers.
If you are able to stretch it to a thin sheath without breaking, then the dough is ready, else knead for a couple of more minutes.
This is called the window pane test.
Now grease a bowl or container.
I prefer a flat bottom pan or container.
Transfer the dough in the container, turn it over so that it's covered with oil.
Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap.
Mark the container with a marker.
This will help you know when the dough has doubled.
It will take anywhere between an hour to two to double in size depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
Meanwhile grease and dust 9"*5"*3" loaf tin .
Once the dough has doubled in size, remove it on the counter top.
Very gently knead it for a minute.
Pat the dough into an 8" rectangle.
From the end farthest to you fold the dough by an inch and half and pinch it to seal it.
Repeat till you get a roll, pinch to seal.
Tuck the ends in and pinch them.
Now carefully lift the ready roll and place it in the prepared pan with the seam side down.
Brush it lightly with oil.
Spray some water over it.
Cover with a cling film and let it sit undisturbed in a warm place.
It is ready to be baked when the loaf rises about an inch above the pan. This will take anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Keep an oven safe metal dish on the bottom rack.
Brush the loaf with milk for a nice colour.
Again spray water on it.
Place it carefully in the oven.
Pour boiling hot water in the dish kept in the lowest rack.
The steam from boiling water will help in oven spring and also prevent from developing cracks on the surface of the loaf.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, till the top gets a nice brown colour.
The bread is ready when it sounds hollow when the bottom is tapped.
If you have a bread thermometer, then check the loaf, it's temperature should read 200degrees farenheit.
Once the bread is done turn it on a wire rack.
Brush the top with oil and cover with a moist cloth if you want a soft crust. Let it cool completely on wire rack before you slice it.