Recipe test #2 from The Great British Bake-Off - How to Bake... cookbook. This recipe for Old-Fashioned London Loaf lured me in when the description included a close crumb, crisp crust and easy to slice. I have been looking for a more dense-like white bread that would hold up well for sandwiches. I also wanted to move away from the bread maker this time too. This recipe seemed to promise to deliver on all.
Starting out I mixed all the dry ingredients in the bowl of my stand mixer. Then I added the room temperature water. So far, so good. With the mixer fitted with the dough hook, I started off slowly until I felt the ingredients were starting to come together then cranked it up to high speed for 4 minutes. The result was a dough that was not sticky, quite firm but still pliable.
Now the next step was to let it rise...SLOWLY - as in 12 hours. Pay attention to that last word - SLOWLY. And to let something rise slowly, you need to ensure proper cool room temperature. I didn't. I covered my dough with cling wrap and left it on the kitchen counter. Not a good idea as my kitchen tends to be the warmest place in the house. By the time I went to bed after 3 hrs of rising the dough was pretty high and looked great. That was then. By the next morning it had fallen. Clearly it rose too quickly, too fast.
I didn't want to file it all into the garbage and start over. So I prevailed. I kneaded it slightly on a floured board, let it sit another 15 minutes , then braided it and let it rise again another 2 hours. And lo and behold, it rose again quite nicely.
A quick glaze of cream and in the oven it went. There are a few steps with this bread that do stand out as odd. Odd because I have never done it before. But all the quirks are there to lead to a very crisp crust.
The results ? An amazing bread ! No air pockets, no doughy parts, no over-baked areas, no toughness. Granted, not sure why I braided cause it didn't hold its shape. So feel free to omit that step if you like and just shape into a loaf and place in pan.
Overall, this recipe came through on its promises and I couldn't be more delighted. I will make it again and again and again.
So if you are in the mood for a slice of bread that truly does deliver, then give this recipe a try. Just remember, let it rise overnight in a cool room, and you should be fine.
Are you ready? Get out the bread pan and get baking !
*adapted source recipe, Old-Fashioned London Loaf, The Great British Bake Off - How To Bake...
WHAT YOU NEED
500 grams white bread flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
10 grams unsalted butter, diced
1/2 teaspoon fast-action yeast
300 ml water at room temperature
1 tablespoon heavy cream
GREASE a large loaf pan with cooking spray or butter
IN BOWL OF STAND MIXER, fitted with dough hook attachment, stir together flour and salt
WITH YOUR FINGERTIPS, rub in butter until it pretty much disappears
STIR in dried yeast
MAKE A WELL in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in water
ON SLOW SPEED, slowly knead in all ingredients until it starts to come together then increase speed to HIGH and let the mixer knead the dough for 4 minutes
COVER BOWL with clingwrap and place in a cool location for no less than 8 hrs and no more than 12 hrs
PUNCH DOWN dough
ON FLOURED SURFACE, KNEAD gently for 1 minute then return to bowl, covered, for 15 minutes
ON FLOURED SURFACE, press dough out into a rectangle slightly larger than your bread pan
LEAVING 1/2 inch on one short end, cut the dough into 3 strips
BRAID together and press ends together to seal
TUCK ENDS underneath and place loaf in bread pan
COVER with clean tea towel and let rest for 2-3 hrs
BRUSH cream over top of risen loaf
PREHEAT oven to 425F
PLACE a roasting pan on bottom shelf of oven
WHEN oven has reached temperature, place bread onto oven rack
POUR 1 cup of water into roasting pan then quickly shut the door. This causes a burst of steam which will help achieve a crunchy crust.
BAKE 30 minutes
REMOVE bread from bread pan and return the loaf back to the oven, directly on the oven rack for 5 minutes
REMOVE bread and let cool on cooling rack before slicing