Good white bread

I make a lot of different sorts of bread, but this is one of the most versatile. It is a good white bread, with a little rye for texture and flavour, and is the recipe used for the tutorial videos. I put two similar recipes in the book – one for a straight dough and one for a sourdough. This version is essentially the same, but uses a yeasted preferment. Made only from flour, water, yeast, and salt, and allowed the time to ferment properly, this makes a good quality loaf. The dough is versatile, being suitable for baguettes and crusty rolls, as well as large loaves. Approximate cooking times are given but ovens can vary, so if an instant read thermometer is available, an internal temperature of around 98-99°C is suitable for these crusty loaves.

Crusty batard, baton, and ficelle
crusty batard, baton, and ficelle

Ingredients

Preferment

  • 500g white wheat flour
  • 500g water
  • 1g yeast

Main dough

  • 850g white wheat flour
  • 150g wholemeal rye flour
  • 550g water
  • 7.5g yeast
  • 30g salt

Method

  • Combine the preferment ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  • Cover and leave to ferment for around 10 to 12 hours.
  • Place the dough ingredients, except for the salt, in a bowl and add the preferment.
  • Mix well then cover and leave to stand for 20 minutes for the flour to hydrate.
  • Tip the dough out onto the worktop and knead for a few minutes until the dough starts to come together.
  • Turn over the bowl to cover the dough and leave for 10 minutes or so.
  • Spread the dough a little and sprinkle over the salt.
  • Fold and work the dough to incorporate the salt, then continue to knead for another few minutes, until fairly smooth and elastic.
  • Form the dough into a ball, using a little flour if needed.
  • Lightly flour the bowl, return the dough to the bowl, and cover with a cloth.
  • Let the dough ferment for 2 hours, folding the dough 3 times, at 30 minute intervals.
  • Lightly flour the worktop and tip out the dough.
  • Divide and shape as desired, and prove for around one hour, until almost doubled in size.
  • For batons:
    • One hour before baking, heat the oven to 250°C, preferably with a baking stone, or otherwise a heavy baking sheet. Place a heavy pan at the bottom of the oven.
    • When ready to bake, score the batons and transfer to the baking stone.
    • Add a splash of water to the pan to generate steam and bake for ten minutes before opening the oven door to allow excess steam to escape.
    • Reduce the temperature to 220°C and bake for a further ten to 15 minutes, depending on size.
  • For a boule or batard:
    • One hour before baking, heat the oven to 250°C, preferably with a baking stone, or otherwise a heavy baking sheet. Place a heavy pan at the bottom of the oven.
    • When ready to bake, score the loaf and transfer to the baking stone.
    • Add a splash of water to the pan to generate steam and bake for ten minutes before opening the oven door to allow excess steam to escape.
    • Reduce the temperature to 220°C and bake for a further 20 to 30 minutes for a 500 g loaf or 25 to 35 minutes for a 1 kg loaf.
  • For crusty rolls:
    • One hour before baking, heat the oven to 250°C, preferably with a baking stone, or otherwise a heavy baking sheet. Place a heavy pan at the bottom of the oven.
    • When ready to bake, score the rolls if desired and transfer to the baking stone, allowing space for expansion.
    • Add a splash of water to the pan to generate steam and bake for ten minutes before opening the oven door to allow excess steam to escape.
    • Reduce the temperature to 220°C and bake for a further ten minutes or so.
  • For softer rolls:
    • One hour before baking, heat the oven to 200°C, preferably with a baking stone, or otherwise a heavy baking sheet. Place a heavy pan at the bottom of the oven.
    • When ready to bake, spray the surface of the rolls with a little water if desired, then transfer to the baking stone, allowing space for expansion.
    • Add a splash of water to the pan to generate steam and bake for ten minutes before opening the oven door to allow excess steam to escape.
    • Bake for a further ten to 15 minutes.
  • For a 2lb loaf tin:
    • Half an hour before baking, heat the oven to 220°C. Place a heavy pan at the bottom of the oven.
    • When ready to bake, place the loaf tin on the oven shelf.
    • Add a splash of water to the pan to generate steam and bake for ten minutes before opening the oven door to allow excess steam to escape.
    • Reduce the temperature to 200°C and bake for a further 30 to 45 minutes.

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