Greetings from Oxfordshire
I've been a member of this site for little over a week and made a few posts on various topics.
I’m a retired engineer living in England, near Oxford. I’ve been trying to bake bread for at least the past 30 years, but my early attempts all came out like house bricks, “very substantial” and “filling” were the most flattering comments. I could never get the dough to rise much again after knocking it down and putting it in the tins. Then I was lucky enough to install an oven (Neff) with a bread proving setting (about 30 degrees C) and I’ve never looked back. I now have a baking day whenever we run out of bread and make about 10 loaves at a time. The purists amongst you will wince when I say that we freeze the bulk of the cooked loaves, but it works for me.
I’ve always used our trusty Kenwood Chef Major (UK food mixer) which can easily handle the dough from 1kg of flour, and has mixed 1.5kg betimes. Although I’ve tried lots of recipes, including Peter Reinhart’s and sourdough, my family’s favourite is a granary bread made from Doves Malthouse flour. Doves is an organic flour miller widely available in UK supermarkets and health food shops.
- 1kg bag Malthouse flour
- Scant 600ml warm filtered water
- 2 tsp Doves dried yeast (I find this better than other makes)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1tsp sugar (any)
- A good glug of sunflower oil (or similar)
Mix the dry ingredients; with the mixer running add the oil and then the water. Keep stopping to scrape down the mixer bowl and adjust the hydration until the dough forms into a ball on the dough hook and the bowl is clean. Kneed at slow speed (1 – 3) for about 4-5 minutes, stopping now and then to scrape the dough off the hook.
Mix a second batch and rise them both in the proving oven.
When doubled in size, knock down and combine both batches, kneading them together. Of course, if you are mixing by hand, you can make them as one, but I’m lazy – let the machine do the hard work. You should have about 3.3kg of dough. Cut into 3 equal pieces and form into loaf tins (Tefal 9X5X3in = 23X13X7cm – can’t get these any more – best non-stick heavy aluminium pans I’ve ever had - suggestions please). Allow to second rise until the dough is domed to the rim of the tins, and then bake at 220 degrees C for about 35-40 minutes. The loaves will fall out of these tins. If they look a bit underdone, quickly return naked loaf to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Cool, eat or freeze.
I’ve had passable success with sourdough recently, but the loaves have spread too far after shaping and come out too flat. In general I’ve found that the hydration recommended in most recipes is too high for my liking and reducing it by 5-10% makes dough that is less sticky and keeps its shape when baked without a tin. I cannot get on with high hydration recipes.
Today I’ve been baking pizzas. For these I use Jamie Oliver’s recipe - 800gr Canadian very strong white flour (Waitrose) and 200gr of semolina, 650 ml warm water, salt, sugar, yeast and olive oil.