Alice Ardnell's basic bread
Put your own twist on this basic recipe by adding your favourite flavours and shaping it in an impressive way (hint: YouTube has some great bread shaping videos).
- 4 cups high grade flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 teaspoons bread maker yeast (or 5 teaspoons active dried yeast, activated as per package’s instructions)
- 20 ml olive oil
- 340 ml water, room temperature
- Combine flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and most of the water in a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) and mix until combined.
- Add the rest of the water if needed. The dough should be very sticky and wet at this stage and stick to your fingers and side of the bowl.
- Knead dough until smooth (about 10 minutes by hand or 5-10 with a stand mixer). Dough should be smooth, satiny and stretch like elastic.
- Tip the dough into a large lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size (about 2 hours).
- Knock the risen dough back lightly with your fingertips then divide into two equal balls (weigh for accuracy).
- Shape dough as wished (loaf, round, sausage) and place it back in the warm place to rise until doubled in size again (1-2 hours depending on the size of your loaf).
- Preheat oven to 200 °C.
- To check it is proved properly, press lightly with your fingertip. If it springs back slowly it is ready to bake. If it springs back quickly it needs more time. If it doesn’t spring back at all it is over proved and needs to go in the oven immediately.
- Bake loaves for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. It should sound hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.
You can adapt this recipe to your taste by adding sundried tomatoes, herbs and cheese of your liking just before point 6, as you go to shape the dough.