500g strong white flour
A large pinch of salt
7g packet fast action yeast
40ml olive oil (I guess you could used flavoured oil, or oil from sundries tomatoes)
320ml luke warm water
In a large mixing bowl, place the flour (as I said I generally use a mixture of brown and white about 50/50). On one side of the bowl add the salt and on the opposite place the yeast. Add the oil and 240ml of the water. Use a wooden spoon or your hand to draw the mixture together to incorporate all the flour. Then slowly add the rest of the water until you reach a soft, sticky dough. (Brown flour seems to need slightly more water.
Oil your work surface. Turn your dough out and kneed for 5 to 10 mins. This is my favourite bit and allows me to de stress. If your listening to music, about three songs can go whilst you kneed! When done, the dough will be really stretchy.
Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Place in a warmish place and allow to rise for at least 1hr, preferably longer. It should triple in size. Paul doesn't recommend putting it in a warm place to rise as a slow rise leads to a better flavour, but my house is so bloody cold that I'd be waiting a week, so I find a marginally warmer spot!
When tripled in size turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knock the dough back ie. pushing the air out of the dough with your fist/knuckles. Shape the dough into the classic bloomer shape, by firstly stretching it to a rough rectangle, folding the longer sides in under neath, tidying the ends underneath too and 'plump' the shape to form the bloomer by rolling it from side to side a little.
To prove the bread, place it in a lightly oiled backing sheet (I squirt it a couple of times with my olive oil spray). Cover loosely with the tea towel again and leave for about another 60 mins to double in size.
Meanwhile heat your oven to 220c and put a roasting tin on the top shelf to heat up. Once the bread has risen, dust the top with a little flour, or I guess you could use poppy seeds or sesame seeds and cut 4 deep slashes diagonally across the top being careful not to squash the bread too much. Sprinkle the top if the bread with a little water and pour boiling water in the hot roasting tray in the oven. This will cause steam in the oven which will give you a lovely crust.
Place the loaf on the baking sheet in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. Lower the heat to 200c and bake for a further 10/15 mins. The bottom sounds hollow when it's ready. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
I have had mixed success with bread in the past, but this one always seems to give a good loaf. It's long-winded of course, but worth it when you smell and taste your own freshly baked bread!! It makes good toast too the following day! I'll try a Gluten free version soon and let you know how it works.
Happy bread making! X