- Serves: 2 loaves
- Cook Time:
- Prep Time: 50 minutes plus 3 hours rising time
- Effort: easy
- 10 g caster sugar
- 2½ tsp dried yeast or 20g fresh yeast or 1½ x 7g sachets of fast-action yeast
- 700 g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
- olive oil, for greasing
- 1 egg, beaten
- A handful of sesame seeds, optional
1. In a measuring jug, mix 450ml warm water with the sugar and yeast and leave to stand in a warm place for 5 minutes or until the mixture is creamy. If using fast-action yeast, there is no need to let the mixture stand.
2. Sift the flour and 2 teaspoons of salt into a large bowl, or the bowl of an electric food mixer fitted with a dough hook. Pour the yeast mixture into the well and mix to a loose dough, adding extra water if needed. Once the dough comes together it will be sticky and a little wet.
3. Remove from the bowl and knead by hand for about 10 minutes, 5 minutes in the food mixer or until dough is smooth and springy to the touch. Grease a clean bowl with olive oil and put the dough into it, then cover the top tightly with cling film and place somewhere warm to rise for up to 2 hours, up to 3 hours on a cold day, or until doubled in size.
4. When the dough has more than doubled in size, knock back and knead again for 23 minutes. Leave to relax for 10 minutes before you begin to shape the bread.
5. Divide the dough in half and shape into two loaves, then transfer to a baking sheet and cover with a clean tea towel. Allow to prove in a warm place for 2030 minutes or until the dough has again doubled in size. When fully risen, it should leave a dent when you gently press the dough with your finger.
6. While the bread is proving, preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Dust the top of each loaf with flour or gently brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds, if using, then bake in the oven for 3035 minutes. Turn the heat down to 200C/180C fan/gas 6, after 15 minutes for the remaining cooking time.
7. When cooked, the bread should sound hollow when tapped on the base. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Love baking bread? Why not take a look at our top 10 bread recipes for more inspiration.
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