- 3½ lb. (1¾ k.) best plain flour (not self-raising)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1½ oz. (45 g.) yeast
- 2 level teaspoons caster sugar
- 1½ pints (9 dl.) milk and water
3 2-pint (1-l.) bread tins or round cake tins 2 inches (5 cm.) deep and 9 inches (20 cm.) in diameter will be required for these quantities.
Warm all the utensils before you begin to make the bread. Make up the yeast as directed on packet, if dried is used. If fresh is available, mix in a cup with 1 teaspoon caster sugar and 2 tablespoons tepid water.
Put flour, salt and remaining sugar into a mixing bowl and mix lightly so that the salt and sugar are evenly distributed throughout.
Make the water and milk just lukewarm – one part boiling and two of cold mixed together give the right temperature. Add the prepared yeast. Then with a wooden spoon make a hole in the centre of the flour and pour all the liquid gently into the hole. The hole must not go to the bottom of the bowl, as there must be a layer of flour under the liquid. Now, with the spoon, stir a little of the flour into the liquid, and sprinkle a little of the dry flour which remains round the edge over the batter and leave the remainder of the dry flour in a wall round it. If the liquid overflows the flour in places, no harm is done.
Cover the bowl with a cloth and stand it in a warm place for the ‘sponge’, as it is called, to rise. This will take about 20 minutes. When the yeast has risen through the flour and is a mass of bubbles, it is ready to knead.
To do this, just mix the dry flour into the central batter, then turn it on to a board. Knead with your knuckles, lightly but firmly, turning and gathering the dough for about three minutes.
When the dough is smooth and elastic, put it back in the bowl and cover again with the cloth, which should have been sprinkled with flour on the side nearest the dough to prevent sticking. Leave it in a warm place for one and a quarter hours to rise. It should then have doubled its original size.
If you are baking the bread in tins, make them warm and do not grease. Knead the dough again for at least 3 minutes: divide it by cutting and half-fill each tin with the dough. Put the tins in a warm place to ‘prove’ them for at least half an hour. Then put in a hot oven – 425° F., gas mark 7 – and reduce the heat to moderate after 10 minutes. Bake for about 45 minutes. Reduce the heat a little half-way through cooking, if the bread is darkening too much.
The loaf should sound hollow when tapped if it is done. If you like, test with a skewer, which should come out clean.
To make rolls, divide the dough into small evenly sized pieces. Knead each piece lightly and shape into balls, twists, etc. Place on a greased baking sheet, score with a knife and prove for about 10 minutes in a warm place. Glaze with egg or milk and bake until the rolls sound hollow when tapped – about 10 minutes.
©1975 The Estate of Elizabeth Ayrton