Sunday, 6 April 2014


It's been another busy week but I always find the time to make bread. I have to now, we're so spoiled by homemade, unless we're on holiday in France, we don't enjoy shop bought much anymore. As promised here's the recipe I use for everyday loaves;

500g strong white bread flour
12g dried instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
300g tepid water
40g olive oil

If I'm in a hurry or feeling lazy I use a stand mixer but the recipe works just as well by hand. Put the flour into the mixing bowl and add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other. When you are ready to begin, stir the dry ingredients together and then pour in the liquid. Mix for a minute with the paddle attachment (or your hands). The dough will be a sticky mass at this point but scrape it all off the paddle and attach the dough hook. Knead for 6 minutes on a low to medium speed (or until it feels smooth and elastic in your hands). If I'm making the bread by hand I like to stretch it in an arc so that it falls back on itself trapping air at every stretch. Just lift one end and flip it back over itself. Although it is quite wet when you start kneading it will firm up and become very elastic.

After kneading, divide the dough into two on an oiled surface. (I never flour the worktop because that alters the balance of the mix and makes the bread dry). If you have a bread cutter that's perfect but otherwise use a sharp knife.

Put the dough balls into clean, lightly oiled bowls and cover with a smooth cloth or oiled cling film. Leave to rest in a warm place.

After an hour has passed the dough should have doubled in size and look like this.
Turn the dough onto the oiled worktop and knock it back gently. Then shape into a ball by folding the edges of the dough into the middle rotating the dough ball as you do so. Turn the ball over and smooth the top by stretching it gently towards the base of the ball with your hands. Place the dough onto a baking sheet with the smooth side up.

As you can see from the picture above, I often double the quantities and make four small loaves at a time and I always sprinkle a generous amount of semolina on the tray - it prevents the dough from sticking and helps give a nice crust.

Cover the dough with a smooth cloth again and leave it to prove for about an hour in a warm room. When it has roughly doubled in size again I make a slash with a very sharp blade, paint the tops gently with milk and sprinkle on some sesame seeds. The trays go into a very hot oven - Gas Mark 8 or equivalent. As soon as I close the oven door I turn the heat down to Gas 7 and set the timer for 25 minutes. After just 5 minutes in the oven I rotate the trays 180 degrees and switch the one that has been on the top shelf with the one on the lower shelf. You may not have to do this but I know my oven and it's essential for me to get an even bake! I will check it again after a few minutes to see if I need to rotate the trays once more.

Here's the finished result. It seems as though it's very time consuming and of course bread making does take time but you don't have to be watching it at every step. Make sure you have a timer with you and you can be busy about your business most of the time while the dough does its own thing!

I think I've read every book there is on bread making and my recipe is cannibalised from all that I've read and tried. It works for me and I hope you'll enjoy having a go too.

Thanks for reading this even if your not interested in baking. I'll be back soon with proper work!

Linda x


  1. Linda you have my mouth watering :) x

  2. They look yum!! I just wish modern wheat didn't make my joints ache so much.

  3. interesting that there is no form of sugar in the recipe...any particular reason?
    I used to bake bread when I was at college - American version of college - 10 white loaves one day 10 whole wheat loaves on another day. Most weeks. It got me a bit of pocket money.
    I have been back to doing my own bread again lately. Trying flours like rye and spelt.
    Sandy in Bracknell

  4. Hi Sandy - I never add sugar in my bread recipe. I like to use fresh yeast when I can get it but otherwise I use fast action dried yeast and I find there's no need to add sugar to activate it. Some of the American recipes I've tried call for sugar but they are way too sweet for my taste. I've also tried to eliminate the salt but the results are nowhere near as good. Seems you have to have some but I make my spoonfuls on the scant side!

    1. Sorry, only just now got caught back up to see your reply. I shall have to try it w/out sugar then. I use fast acting yeast now, too, but haven't delved into modern recipe variants using it.
      I am trying to remember what we were taught about why you need salt, but I think that one will take some Googling to remember.

  5. Thank you, Linda! I will get busy this week and make some bread (once I convert it to US measures. :D) I love to knead bread. It is so soothing, meditative. You form your loaves the same way my Gram taught me. She worked in a bakery in a rural town that had the most wonderful breads and buns. Thanks again!

  6. Thanks for sharing!!! A definite for me to make when we get back to Michigan!

  7. Thank you Linda, I make bread all the time and we love it. I add a 1/2 teaspoon of honey to mine, that is for two loaves that last a couple of weeks, and we don't find it sweet but I like the idea of no sugar at all. Barbara Hodkinson