Sunday, 1 January 2012

Easy start to 2012

Some days you just need simple, effective and really good. So a handmade loaf with hardly any kneading was called for.  Now don't get my wrong some days kneading traditionally can be good for stress,  But today I just wanted simple and really good.  So I opted for Dan Lepards Easy White bread from his amazing book Short and Sweet If you haven't encountered Dans method for kneading and making a loaf you really should grab one of his books and start giving it a go.  Pure brilliance. Anyway I am getting a little off track To start with all you need is

First add the dry ingredients into a bowl
add most of your water, you will probably need it all but I always keep 50 ml back at first just in case. And simply either with your hands or in my case a wooden spoon just mix until it is all combined and forming a ball.  A very rough shaggy looking ball but still all sticking together in one lump, mine looked a little like this.
Now just cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave for 10 minutes. after the 10 minutes is up we need to 'knead' the dough lightly.  first though I took a work surface and oiled it lightly just a bit bigger than the dough and rubbed a little onto my hands.  This ensures the dough won't take on any extra flour and have it's texture changed.  Take the dough out of the bowl and place on the board.  You will notice the texture and look has changed already and you haven't done anything yet. Now the kneading is a quick burst of about 10 seconds and no more.  All you should do is take a section from the edge and fold it into the centre of the ball, turn a quarter of the way round and repeat.  I get 8-10 turn ins like this in 10 seconds.  Turn the dough over so the smooth side is facing up and return to the bowl
Cover again with the cloth and leave for another 10 minutes, repeat the kneading twice more and after the 3rd kneading leave the dough to rise for 45 minutes.  It should of risen about half the size again and look a bit like this
Now we do something a little different, we flour a board or work surface and transfer the dough to this, I took the picture below to show you how the air pockets were forming inside. Really need a better camera for the colours and lighting though sorry. 

Pat the dough out to a rough large oval shape, or something similar like so
then roll up almost Swiss roll style and sort of pinch the ends together to a slight point.

Then transfer to a floured tray, cover with a cloth and leave to rise for another 45 minutes.  Meanwhile preheat your oven to gas mark 7.  When the 45 minutes is up and your loaf has risen considerably then dust with flour and slash it.  I usually use a craft knife with a snap off blade as you should use a knife that will cut easily with a sharp edge in one go so you don't knock out the air you have just created with the proving/rising. 
Cook on a shelf in top 1/3 of oven for 35-40 minutes. Mine came out looking like this.

I transferred it to a cooling rack and Youngest son and I waited impatiently until it had cooled down to just warm and ate a slice each with butter while watching Doctor Who on TV.  Life can be good :o) The crumb inside is slightly irregular and holey but very nice texture and taste for such a simple loaf.