For years now I've been trying to master the perfect loaf of bread. A loaf that rises beautifully with little effort and continues to do so during the process of cooking. Occasionally I've been lucky and made something which I consider resembles bread and is deliciously edible, mostly though, if I'm being honest, I create 'house bricks'. I genuinely believe that I could have built a house of sorts out of all those reject hard offerings.
Why don't you just buy a bread maker? I hear you say. Well I do have one, and it does make a good loaf, or would if I didn't insist on always being creative and jeopardising things there too!! Bread makers are good and I do use mine occasionally but there is something to be said about nurturing your loaf yourself. It takes time and attention like all good things.
Anyway, recently I have discovered a loaf that really does seem to work every time, even with a bit of creative input ;-) and it produces rather a posh looking, tasty loaf without very much effort at all.
So I thought I'd share my new found success story with you:-
Makes one delicious artisan loaf
3 cups of flour (I use strong white bread flour but have experimented with 50/50 brown and white and it still seems to work)
1 1/2 cups tepid water
1/2 tsp yeast
Pinch of salt
Pop it all into a large mixing bowl, give it a rough stir (not too much attention needed) and cover and leave for 12-18 hours. Cling film works best as it keeps the moisture and heat in the bowl. I've started to prep this after dinner, then leave it over night and cook it in the morning ready for lunch.
The mixture looks dry initially and one questions whether there is enough water added but after the 12+ hours you are not greeted with a dry mixture (oh no) but a frothy moist bowl of bubbilness. The next step is easy. Preheat your over to about 150 degrees C, sprinkle a little flour on top of the mixture and literally scoop it out of the bowl and roughly shape it as you do so. I really don't do much here. Cover your loaf with foil (roughly, it's just to stop the top burning) and pop into the oven for 15 minutes. After this time turn the oven up to 180 degrees C and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the top looks lightly browned and it smells delicious. The smell is a good indication of readiness :-)
Variations:- You could add some seeds to your initial mixture or roll your uncooked loaf in poppy seeds etc I was also thinking it might be good with garlic and rosemary or sun dried tomatoes....mmmmm food for thought. Do let me know how you get on XXXXXX