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Preparation info

  • Makes

    One

    Large Loaf or as Above
    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

The Daily Mail Modern British Cookbook

The Daily Mail Modern British Cookbook

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1998

  • About

The easiest and most flexible dough uses a strong white wheat flour and the packet ‘instant’ easy-blend yeast you can buy in any supermarket in boxes of foil-wrapped sachets. This does not need to be activated separately in warm water, but is simply mixed in with the dough.

Good bread begins with a high-gluten wheat flour, ideally with a 14 per cent protein content. Waitrose are at last selling Canadian wheat flour, the higher-than-average gluten content of which traps more carbon dioxide from the yeast, so producing a lighter loaf with a terrific crust.

A traditional baker uses a wooden peel, a long-handled paddle, to transfer the risen dough into the oven and the finished bread out of it. Pizzas and many breads benefit from being baked in direct contact with heated stone, which is what gives them their crisp base crust. You can buy baking stones to go into domestic ovens but, if you do, you will then have to work out a technique for sliding the dough on to them, as the baker does with a peel. While the loaf will never be quite as good as the bread baked in direct contact with hot stone, heavy baking trays will give good results.

The incredibly versatile dough given below will make loaves, rolls or pizza. Leave the dough in a zip-lock bag and it will make very good focaccia after being knocked down and left to rise a second time at room temperature. Press in slivered garlic and dress with more oil for a garlic bread or roll out as pancakes to make wheat flour tortillas in a hot dry pan on the hob. It also makes brilliant pittas. That which you don’t use the first day will keep happily in a zip-lock bag in the fridge for three days.

Ingredients

    Method