Saturday, 13 September 2014

Back to basics... A nice white English style bread, Simple.

I have been making sourdough bread all the time recently, but I suddenly have a yearning for a simple milky white bread again.

It doesn't keep as well as sourdough, so needs to be made more often, but that isn't really a bad thing. The hydration (proportion of liquid to the flour) is less with these very English breads, and that makes for a tighter crumb. A crumb that is suited more to English sandwiches and toast than open, airy sourdough, which is much better for scooping and dipping olive-oily mixes.

The basic bread is pretty much the same, the only difference between these two is in the liquids.

First off, I made some poppy seed rolls. Perfect for cheese and tomato rolls, and for bacon with tomato ketchup for breakfast.

These lasted around two days in the bread bin, but they aren't long keepers, so I wouldn't want to keep them any longer, although they freeze well.

So next up, proper English loaves made in small loaf tins (these are mini loaves, I used a quarter of the dough for each of these, and the other half in a 1lb tin for a little bit bigger slice),

And here is a close up of the crumb of the loaves

There is room in our baking lexicon for all kinds of bread. Don't let us forget this kind of bread by only making "artisan" style bread.  Raise the flag (the old style Union Flag, even if Scotland leave the Union) for English bread!

Buttermilk / Whey Bread


150g bread flour
150g water
1 tsp instant yeast

Mix this together roughly and leave to get bubbly and well risen for 2-4 hours depending on your schedule

Main dough:

350g Bread flour (I use an equal mix of Canadian extra strong and bread flour or 00 pasta flour)
160g liquid : 
for rolls I used water with 1 tbs buttermilk powder (or use half fresh buttermilk, half water)
for loaves I used whey from straining home made full cream milk yoghurt, or you could use half fresh yoghurt and half water
All of the yeast sponge above
Additional quarter tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
half tsp malt powder (optional)
1 tablesp milk powder (optional, but makes for a lovely flavour)
rolls:  1 tablespoon oil (I used cold pressed rapeseed oil, but any oil is fine)

Mix the sponge and liquids first of all and then add the flour, salt, yeast, malt and milk powder (if using) and mix roughly to a soft dough, either by machine or by hand.  Let it rest for half an hour and then knead in your favourite way (lots of tips on kneading in my earlier post on the old Greedy Piglet site on white bread and more tips here , both of which I will move here shortly).  Allow to rise for approximately 2 hours until at least doubled in size.  Deflate gently by patting flat on the worktop, and then divide either into 12 rolls or shape to fit one 2lb loaf tin, 2 x 1 lb loaf tins or 4 mini loaf tins, or a mixture of these shapes.   Start the oven heating now to Gas Mark 7 425/220 degrees.

Shaping rolls:
Cut the dough into chunks (I work to about 12 for this amount of dough, cutting in half then half again then half again) and roll into rough rounds. Leave for about 10 mins and then shape by patting flat, turning the corners to the middle a couple of times, turn so the seams are underneath and then rolling with a cupped hand on the (unfloured) worktop.  Pop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with egg wash (1 egg in a bowl with a pinch of salt and a splash of water). Cover very lightly with cling film and allow to proof for half an hour then egg wash again and sprinkle with poppy seeds - sesame seeds are also nice, maybe with a couple of nigella seeds too for a Turkish flavour.  Bake for around 15 mins until golden brown.

Shaping bread. 

Divide the dough into the sizes your tins dictate. Flatten gently and then shape by folding corners to middle then turning top third down and then bottom third up to make an oblong. Flatten gently again and fold top down to bottom, sealing the bottom edge firmly with the base of your hand. Drop into the greased loaf tin and cover with cling film or a clean shower cap and allow to proof for around an hour or until the bread is just peeking over the top of the tin. Slash down the middle if you like, or not if you don't like, dust with flour, and bake for around 45 mins.

Cool both shapes on a rack out of the tins until thoroughly cool.

Or until just about warm enough for the butter not to melt too much. Yummy.

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