17 February, 2008

Simple milk loaf

I mostly bake my own bread but in quite a haphazard fashion, because I have to fit it around all the other things I do in a day. So I produce four loaves roughly using a recipe from Elizabeth David's brilliant book on bread, and kneading, leaving, proving the bread as and when it and I are ready.

Today was different. I used Dan Lepard's lovely book The Handmade Loaf. The recipe is the Simple milk loaf. In addition and unusually for me I was using fresh yeast which I bought from the local baker.

So to the recipe:

1 1/2 tsp fresh yeast crumbled
350 g whole milk at 20 degrees C
20 g golden or maple syrup (I used maple)
250 g plain white flour
250 g strong white flour
1 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
25 g warm melted unsalted butter

In a large bowl, whisk the yeast with the milk and syrup. Add the flours and the salt, and squidge the lot together with your hands until you have a soft sticky dough and the flour and liquid have evenly combined. Pour over the warm melted butter, and then squeeze this into the dough. Scrape any remaining dough from your hands, cover the bowl and leave for 10 minutes. Rub 1 tsp of olive or corn oil on the work-surface and knead the dough for 10 seconds, ending with the dough in a smooth round ball.

Wipe the bowl clean and rub with 1 tsp olive oil, return the dough to it, cover and leave for a further 10 minutes. Repeat this light kneading twice more, at 10 minute intervals, then leave the dough for 30 minutes.

Grease and flour a deep loaf tin (12 x 19 cm). Divide the dough into two equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Drop them side-by-side into the prepared tin, cover with a cloth, and leave to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until almost doubled in height.

Preheat the oven to 210 degrees centigrade. Brush the top of the loaf with a little cream or milk, and bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 180 degrees centigrade and bake for a
further 25-30 minutes, or until the top of the loaf is a shiny dark brown, and the loaf has come away from the sides of the tin. Remove from the tin, and leave to cool on a wire rack.

The girls and I tried a slice. It was delicious. Lovely texture, soft, slightly sweet. It should make good sandwiches which is what Dan Lepard recommends it for. I wonder what it would be like if you add a little wholemeal.

I have a problem with my wholemeal flour. I always try to buy flour in bulk online from a good nearish mill. The latest batch came from Bacheldre which has won awards for its flour and is in the same county as us. The white unrefined unbleached is lovely flour. Makes a delicious loaf with good texture and a slightly nutty flavour. The wholemeal is a disappointment. On its own the loaf barely rises and comes out unbelievably worthy feeling with the toughest crust. I am now mixing it with the white in roughly 1/3 wholemeal to 2/3 white proportions. I keep wondering if it is something I am doing but I didn't have this problem with the flour from my previous supplier.

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