Basic Bread Dough Recipe - WFMW
As promised my basic bread dough recipe. I've been fiddling with this for a while and I'm pretty sure its as good as it going to get.
I use this dough for a lot of things, not just plain white bread, but we'll get to that.
About lb plain white flour
About 300ml luke warm water
2 tbls olive oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp honey
2 tsp dried yeast
Put flour, oil and salt in a large bowl
Add yeast and honey to lukewarm water to reactivate and make a cup of coffee while you wait 10 minutes.
Tip water mixture into flour and combine with your hands. You may think at first that there is too much water but just keep mixing and squeezing together it will be a soft dough. The idea behind good bread is to get as much liquid in there as possible and still be able to handle the dough, even if you can just barely handle it.
Flour your counter top and tip the dough out. Knead the dough for as long as you can manage, you'll start to feel a difference with this dough very quickly after a couple of minutes and because it is a soft dough with plenty of liquid it is very easy to knead*. If need be take a break for a couple of minutes, nobody ever said you had to knead the dough for a solid 20 minutes.
Once you're happy that the dough is soft, smooth and elastic, add a little bit of oil to the original bowl (it will be relatively clean), cover with cling film and leave to prove**
Once proved, knock back slightly, shape, preheat oven and bake.
* I think the easiest way to knead dough is to hold onto the piece of dough closest to you and stretch the rest of the dough away from you, then roll the dough back on itself, turn and repeat. The first few stretches the dough will break, then it stretches more and more easily. This way seems to me to be much easier on the arms, much quicker and theres something very rhythmic and relaxing about it.
** In my house there are three ways to prove bread. Sometimes I'll make a double batch of dough and prove half of it in the fridge for 24 hours or so, that way I only have to make dough once. It can be proved at room temperature for about two hours, you can easily make a batch after lunch and have fresh baked bread with dinner. 3.00pm and not a crumb in the house, stick some washing in the dryer while you make the dough, put it in the bowl, switch off the dryer, flatten the clothes slightly, set the bowl on top and close the door while you preheat the oven, 20 minutes later, perfectly risen dough.
I always bake bread at 180C (350F) in a fan assisted oven.
Sandwich Rolls divide dough into eight pieces, shape into rolls, scrunching and twisting the ends of the dough into the base of the roll, brush with milk - bake for 15 minutes. Or make about 20 smaller rolls, flattening the dough into a disk before wrapping around a knob of frozen garlic butter or mozzarella before baking. Make a dozen medium rolls stuffed with chicken breast, marinated and cooked in soy, garlic, ginger and spring onion, wrap the dough around, brush with salted milk and sprinkle sesame seeds on top for Chinese style chicken buns.
Plait divide the dough into four pieces then each piece into three, roll into a long strip and plait starting in the middle and working out to each end, turn the ends under, brush with milk and bake for 15 minutes.
Tin Loaf - Tip entire batch of dough out onto a flour surface, flatten slightly, roll the dough into a short fat sausage shape drop into a 2lb loaf tin and bake for 30 - 35 minutes. You'll have to give the loaf a second prove for about 40 minutes with this option. Don't be afraid to add flavours here, when the dough it flattened, before rolling up, spread with basil or tomato pesto, Dijon or wholegrain mustard, cover with chopped steamed spinach, tomato or onion relish, all very good additions.
Bloomer - Again use the whole batch of bread and prepare as for tin loaf, except prove the bread on a greased baking sheet. You can knead in other flavours here and give the loaf a longer second prove, chopped sunblush tomatoes, fresh green grapes and brie, Parmesan and chopped spinach, grated raw beetroot (wear gloves) bake for 30-35 minutes.
Pizza - Yes it makes great pizza, tip dough onto a pizza sheet or just a regular baking sheet (pizza doesn't have to be round), push out to the edges of the pan with your hands, add toppings and bake for 25 - 30 minutes or part bake dough on as it is for 10 minutes, cool and freeze for later use. This recipe will make two 12inch deep dish pizza bases or four thin and crispy (although you're going to have to bake it on a pizza stone or a large untreated terracotta tile placed in the oven works just as well for a fraction of the cash).
Focaccia - The recipe makes two, drop half the dough into the base of a cake tin (about 10 - 12 inch) and push out to the edges of the tin, leave to prove while oven is heating. Before baking make indentations all over the top of the dough with your fingers, drizzle with olive oil, add sea salt, finely sliced red onion and fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme or sage, bake for 20-25 minutes. The bread should be a lovely dark golden brown on top with a lovely crisp crust, serve warm (can be reheated wrapped in foil in the oven for 10 minutes or so).
That isn't even the half of it, you can use this bread recipe for dozens of other options, no more having to remember which recipe you use for rolls, or sandwiches, or pizza, all the one, it all works.
And please let me know if you try any other flavours with this recipe. I'd love to see what else everyone comes up with for this bread.
For more tips, crafts and recipes than you can shake a stick at, head on over to Rocks in my Dryer.
I also have another post up today if you need a relatively quick, very cheap gift idea for Valentine's Day.