Master Bread Recipe

Makes: 2 loaves or 1 loaf and 12 rolls Ready in: 2 hours + cooling

I use this recipe as a base and vary it according to what I fancy - plain, seeded, spicy and fruity... I feel that for the time and effort involved I should get a decent yield, so this recipe makes 2 biggish loaves or 1 loaf and 12 rolls or 24 rolls. You don’t have to bake it in a loaf tin if you don’t have one, you can twist it, plait it or just make it into a big bun.

Ingredients

  • 7 cups plain white or high grade flour – use what you have
  • 1 ½ tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp salt – 3 ½ tsp for white loaves
  • 2 sachets of instant yeast
  • ¼ cup of olive oil

Combine – to make warm liquid, not hot

  • 1 ¼ cups hot water
  • 1 ¼ cups cold milk

    Method

    White bread: Mix the dry ingredients together in a big bowl. Stir in the liquid, use more or less liquid as required to make a soft dough. If you add too much liquid you can knead in extra flour. A hard dry dough is very difficult to work and takes a long time to knead.

    Turn the dough onto a floured bench and knead well, stretching and turning the dough for 5-10 minutes until it becomes smooth, elastic, satiny. Add flour as required during kneading to prevent the dough sticking. Less and less will be needed as the dough is worked.

    Place the dough into a clean greased bowl, flip it over once to grease the top surface of the dough, cover with a plate or plastic wrap leave it to rise. The lid causes the bowl to act like a greenhouse, trapping warm moist air around the dough, keeping it at the optimum temperature to promote rising.

    If you have a microwave you can speed the process along by giving the dough one minute on low power (10-20%) then allowing it to rest for 10 minutes before repeating the 1 minute on low power. If you don’t have a microwave set the dough aside in a warm place until doubled in size.

    When the dough has risen to double its bulk knead it lightly and shape as required.

    For loaves: Divide the dough in two, roll or press the dough into rectangles slightly longer than the tin. Roll up tightly from the long edge (like a swiss roll) tuck the ends under and place with the seam side down into a well greased loaf pan. Cover loosely with a clean cloth and leave to rise.  When risen for about 10 or 15 minutes cut diagonal slashes in the top with a serrated knife. Leave until doubled then bake at 200°C for around 30 minutes, until golden and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

    To make Kaiser rolls: Divide the dough into 24 pieces. Roll each piece on the bench so it resembles a frankfurter or cigar. Tie into a granny knot and tuck the ends underneath. Place on a greased tray, when doubled in size brush gently with beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake at 200°C for around 20 minutes.

    To make wholemeal bread: Substitute up to half the flour with wholemeal flour and continue as for white bread.

    To make mixed seed bread ( a bit like Vogels): Use 3 cups white flour, 2 cups wholemeal flour and make up 2 cups of mixed seeds. I use a combination of pumpkin, sunflower, linseed, cracked wheat, sesame and poppy seeds. Increase the yeast to 2 ½ sachets. The dough is much denser than for “all flour” bread and will not rise as much. The bread is delicious with cheese and lovely toasted if you like dense, seedy breads.

    To make spicy fruit bread: Use 2 ½ sachets yeast. Replace sugar with ½ cup packed brown sugar. Add ½ cup currants, ½ cup raisins, ½ cup mixed peel and ½ cup sultanas. Mix into the dry ingredients 3 ½ tsp mixed spice, 3 ½ tsp cinnamon, 1 ½ tsp all spice and ½ tsp ground cloves. Use ½ cup of oil and add two eggs. Reduce liquid to ½ cup each water and milk.

    Tip

    Mix and match ingredients to make your own versions. Bread will freeze for up to 3 months so bung the surplus - if there is any, in the freezer. 

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