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Basic home made white bread

19 Dec

I was asked for some bread advice. I think basic home made white bread is a great place to start. It’s tasty bread and with fast acting yeast it’s easy to make. Try it a few times and enjoy. When happy, try building on your skills. The timings for the dough and kneeding are quite flexible and depend on the temperature of the room.

This recipe will make two small loaves (500g tins) or one larger one (1kg tin).

Recipe for the bread

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 325g water
  • 1 sachet (7g) of fast acting yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of fine salt

Other requirements

  • Bowl
  • Light oil such as sunflower oil (about 30ml)
  • Clean work surface – counter, table – for kneading.
  • Bread tins (2 x 500g tins or 1 x 1kg tin) – non stick is probably good at the beginning.
  • Dough scraper (optional but useful)


  1. Put everything in a bowl and mix. It’s ok for the mixture to be rough and sticky mixture at this point. (You can use a mixer if you want but don’t use for more than a couple of minutes).
  2. Leave for 10 minutes or so.
  3. Oil a clean work surface with about 10ml of sunflower oil or another light oil. Pour oil on surface and spread it around with your hand. This is to prevent the dough sticking.
  4. Tip all the mixture out of the bowl onto the oiled work surface. A dough scraper is useful here but not essential.
  5. Kneed for a couple of minutes to bring all the mixture together. Hopefully it’s a bit smoother.
  6. Put back into the bowl and leave for 10 minutes.
  7. Clean the work surface as some dough will have stuck to it – a dough scraper is useful for this.
  8. After the 10 minutes mentioned in step 6, oil work surface again, tip out the dough and kneed it again for another couple of minutes.
  9. Repeat step 7 and 8 one more time to give you a third kneed.
  10. Leave the dough for about 30 minutes to ferment. The time can vary up to an hour. The speed of the fermentation depends on temperature.
  11. Oil your tin(s). A small bit of oil on a piece of kitchen roll rubbed around the tin(s) works well.
  12. Tip out the dough. You can divide it in two for two smaller loaves (400g of dough) or leave as one larger loaf – depending on the tins you have and the size loaves you like.
  13. Press it out into a circle and then fold edges like an envelope to make a sort of loaf shape.
  14. Put dough in tin(s) and leave to prove (see picture).
  15. After about 30 minutes, put your oven onto 220oC to heat depending on how long your oven takes to heat.
  16. Check the dough at 45 minutes – dough should come to just below the top of the tin – not over! See picture. The time depends on temperature in the room. If not ready leave for 15 minutes and check again. If in doubt better to cook it sooner rather than let it collapse.
  17. When the loaves looked proved dough should come to just below the top, assuming the oven is up to temperature – put in the tins and reduce the heat to 200oC
  18. The bread should cook in 30 to 40 minutes depending on your oven. Depending on how crusty you like your bread, you might like to take it out of the tin(s) for the last 10 minutes. Hollow sounding base, looking good and smelling really good are all indications that the bread is cooked. See picture.
  19. Allow to cool and enjoy.


Good bread will last a couple of days. It will change a bit over that time but it still tasty. It will also make good toast on the third day.

The amount of water here is called 65%. This will give a nice open texture in the bread but is not too difficult to work. If you like a more closely textured bread, you could reduce the amount of water to 312.5g. For a more open texture to your bread you can increase the water up to 350g which would be 70% hydration. If you go to 70%, you could make a flat bread with a flat tin.

If you fancy, you can prove the bread in a bowl lined with a flour covered tea towel and then turn this out onto a hot oven tray or oven stone. This will give a more ‘rustic’ feel to the loaf.

Inspired by: Delia Smith and Dan LepardThe Handmade Loaf


Gift Loaves for Sourdough September…

29 Sep

Today, I have distributed the last three loaves of sourdough bread to celebrate Sourdough September. In all, over the weekend, I baked twenty seven loaves of sourdough bread. Twenty one of these were distributed to friends, neighbours and colleagues. The other six were eaten or put in the freezer for my own family 🙂

I also used my brick oven for the first time to bake loaves. It wasn’t entirely successful as I didn’t get the oven hot enough. Still learning!

I made two different types of loaf:

  1. My standard sourdough – 10% brown 90% white Belchedre Flour – to this recipe.
  2. A rye fruit sourdough – I learned to make this on my first bread making course with Alex Gooch.

Here are a few pictures:


Two sourdough loaves

Two lovely loaves – nice oven spring and opened beautifully.

Rye sourdough

Small and large rye fruit sourdough

First eight loaves baked in the brick oven (but finished off with electric….)

To be honest, I’m a bit tired of baking today. Well, I have a whole weekend of real work to keep me busy 😉


My first bread-making course…

14 Jul

On Saturday, I attended my first bread making course – ‘Sourdough with Heritage Grains with Alex Gooch” at Humble by Nature. It was a very interesting day – learning about baking from a passionate, knowledgable and experienced baker.

photo (4)

Alex Gooch and some spelt flour

We learned about various grains:

  • Rye – both light and white
  • Spelt
  • Khorasan
  • Einkorn

Alex seems to be actively involved in baking with unusual and newly grown grains through his links with growers and a ‘grain pathologist’.

During the day we made three different breads:

  • A rye sourdough
  • A dark and white sourdough made with spelt and khorasan
  • A flatbread made from spelt, einkorn with roast garlic and rosemary

I liked all the breads but my favourite was the rye sourdough. We made a very tasty bread with light rye flour. We added raisins, black treacle and my favourite ingredient – roasted coriander seeds. The roasted coriander seeds were also added to the sides of the tin and the top of the bread and tasted delicious. This bread seems like it has a lot of possible variations. I hope this can become part of my baking repertoire.

Rye sourdough proving in the tins

Rye sourdough proving in the tins

Baked loaves of rye sourdough

Baked loaves of rye sourdough

Alex was free with his advice, answered many questions and was every the professional baker. He also had a very impressive container of dark rye starter 🙂

The quote of the day was “black is flavour”.
A heartfelt thanks to Alex for the day.

The selection of goodies I brought home from the course

The selection of goodies I brought home from the course

Fire and pizza…

10 Jul

On Thursday, I hosted the first pizza party in my bread oven.

It’s not finished yet but it’s usable. We cooked about 10 pizza and some flat breads.

Very tasty.

Warming the oven

Warming the oven

First pizza in the brick oven

First pizza in the brick oven

Sharing the love of sourdough

22 May

One of the benefits of sharing loaves during Real Bread Maker Week was that it promted the opportunity to share skills and leaven too. I spent a lovely morning with a friend mixing, shaping and baking. Later in the week, I had a chat with an experienced baker about the benefits of sourdough over commercial yeast.

With just a morning – three hours – how did I demonstrate a ten hour baking process? I wanted enough hands-on time to impart some technique. The key was preparation.

Before the morning, I organized some:

  • Some mixture to make,
  • Some dough to shape,
  • Some loaves to bake.

In true Blue Peter style, I prepared dough and loaves earlier 🙂
It was a great morning. Here is a picture of a lovely looking loaf, made later, using the skills:


Later in the week, I discussed using sourdough leaven and how it could give you more control over your baking. I think the timings are easier due to the slower nature of primary fermentation and proving. If you use your fridge, it’s even more flexible, in my opinion. Plus the flavor is much better.

With commercial yeast, the time window for putting a proved loaf in the oven is probably only about 30 minutes. For commercial bakers, this precision is excellent. For home bakers with distractions, this can spell disaster. With a sourdough starter, your time window is more like two hours. Plus, you can always put it in the fridge for an hour or a day. Oops, the school run needs to be done? No worries – fridge here we come, shape later when the kids are in bed.

Sourdough is a slow process. You can’t go from flour to bread in a couple of hours like you can with commercial yeast With time comes flexibility and flavour. If we relax a little and enjoy the time, slow tasty food is a worthwhile reward.

Here is a picture of a nice dark sourdough loaf baked with shared leaven.

Martin Udwin's loaf

Why I love sourdough bread….

14 May

sourdough bread may 2013

It’s Real Bread Maker week. A week to celebrate Real Bread and the people that make it. For me, sourdough bread is the best type of real bread.

The main reason I love sourdough the flavour. The flavour comes from high quality flour combined with long fermentation and proving time. The flavour comes from wild yeast and bacteria. Sourdough bread makes very tasty sandwiches and the best toast in the world.

I also love that it can be eaten four days after its made. I read somewhere (perhaps the Partisan Baker book) that sourdough bread doesn’t go off – it matures. It loses some of its moisture and becomes a little more sour. The acidity helps prevent mold growing. If you keep it in cloth (not plastic – unless it’s in the freezer), mold won’t grow for ages.

I love the purity of the ingredients – just flour and water really… yes I make a leaven but that’s just flour and water with a few added friends.

I love that it’s difficult to mass produce and that with practice it’s possible to make an excellent product at home. I love that every loaf is unique because it’s hand shaped, hand slashed and ends up being cooked in a slightly different way.

Did I mention – it makes the best toast in the world. I love that 🙂

Gift loaves….

10 May

Tomorrow is the start of Real Bread Maker Week. My plan for the week is to give away gift loaves – 20 large loaves of sourdough bread.

Each loaf is made like this:

I mix:

Here is a picture of my leaven: a culture of natural bacteria and wild yeasts that make sourdough special.


The mixture is kneaded and allowed to ferment for either 5 hours at room temperature or for 2 hours at room temperature and over night in the fridge.

The loaves are then shaped and placed in baskets to prove. Again either 5 hours at room temperature or for 2 hours at room temperature and over night in the fridge.

Then the loaves are turned out of the baskets onto a peel and slashed. As fast as I can, I transfer the loaves into a hot oven for baking – usually for about 35 minutes or so.

I allow the bread to cool and wrap it in greaseproof paper and add the Bread Maker Week Logo.

Gift loaves

I started early so four loaves have been gifted and seem well received.

More to be gifted over the weekend and next week.

Most of the loaves are pre-ordered but I have a few spaces. Anybody fancy one?

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