Life is uncertain. Eat Dessert first.

Bread of the Week – Plain White Loaf

Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to attempt a different type of bread each week. I’ve started off with a basic white yeast bread. This simple recipe can be used as the basis for many variations – you could add chopped onions and bacon to the wet ingredients, or try basil pesto with sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. This recipe is part of a series on baking, the first part of which appears in the November issue of Food & Wine Magazine.

Preheat the oven to 200degC.

Sieve 450g strong white flour, 1 level tsp salt and 1 level tsp sugar into a large bowl. Stir 1 sachet of fast acting dried yeast into 300ml warm water and 2 tblsp olive oil. Make a well in the middle of the flour, then pour in the liquid. Mix until a soft dough is formed.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for five minutes until it is smooth. Put the dough into a greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove in a warm area until doubled in size. This will take about an hour.

Turn out the dough onto a very lightly floured surface.

To make loaves: Simply divide the dough in half, and place in two 2lb loaf tins. Mix an egg yolk with a tblsp of water together in a small bowl, then brush over the bread and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Cover with clingfilm, leave in warm place and allow to double in size. Cook in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until the bread is golden brown. Remove the bread from the tin and tap the base to check if it is cooked through (it should sound hollow). If not, just return to the oven for five or ten minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

To make a plait: Divide the dough into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a sausage shape on a lightly floured surface. Make sure they are the same size. Pinch the three pieces together at one end, then plait them and pinch the end together. Transfer onto a baking tray, and glaze as per the loaves. Cover with clingfilm, and all to prove in a warm area for 30 minutes. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes.

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