Saturday, 26 November 2011

a loaf by any other name

...don't tell The Viking but i've fallen in love with Dan Lepard... the man is a god... he knows it... I know it... everyone knows it... and don't let anyone tell you otherwise...

... Dan has managed to turn simple ingredients into a thing of beauty... well, I did the turning, he told me the method via his fabulous new book Short & Sweet... which I recently won in a book giveaway by the lovely Choclette via her Chocolate Log Blog... not that I need to tell you because the book is everywhere, on every blog in the UK and in every book store, but if there is one book you buy this Christmas make it this book...

... because its not just the fabulous recipes... it's the method... ahh the method... you read it and it makes perfect, clear, sense... like a veil of cloud is lifted and you think to yourself... 'of course.. makes perfect sense to do it that way...' or  'so that's how it's done'... and if you follow the method you will not fail...

... and I thought I knew my bread making... I started this bog a year and a half ago with what I thought was a pretty decent loaf... but I had no idea that with the same ingredients and less kneading... yes, less kneading... I could get a spectacular, artisan loaf, like the kind you pay top dollar for in those fancy bakeries, full of air, with a crusty crust... and you can sit back and proudly say...'I made this... and it was fucking easy!'

Easy White Bread
I realise the protocol is a little blurry over reproducing recipes from books but i've decided to go ahead with this one as it's pretty much a basic bread recipe, flour water and yeast... but you really must go and buy this book, I cannot stress enough that you need to read about the method, something I can barely touch upon here.

400g strong white flour
1 teaspoon fast action yeast
1 teaspoon fine salt
300ml warm water
oil for kneading

I doubled the above recipe and made 1 large loaf and 10 small rolls

- put the four, yeast and salt in a bowl, pour in the warm water and stir everything together into a sticky, shaggy mess, cover the bowl with a cloth and leave it for 10 minutes

- lightly oil your work surface, turn the bowl over and empty the dough onto the surface and very gently knead the dough 8 times (that's 8 classic 'stretch then heel of hand then quarter turn... repeat...) then cover and leave for 10 minutes.

- repeat this gentle 'knead and leave' technique 3 times

- then after the last gentle knead return the dough to the bowl, cover with a cloth and leave it to rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

- pre-heat the oven to 200C fan

- sprinkle your work surface with flour, turn the dough onto the surface and pat it down into an oval shape.  Roll it up tightly and lay it seam down onto a floured baking tray.  Let is rest again for a further 45 minutes.

- flour the top of the dough, cut a slash down the middle and bake for 35-40 minutes.

serve it warm with scrambled eggs and mushrooms... it's the law... oh and eat and of course, enjoy!



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