To be completely honest – I have always been pretty pants at baking bread. But ever since this year’s Great British Bake Off show I’ve been determined to get better at it! So I thought I would have a crack at the legendary Paul Hollywood’s simple white bread recipe. I was so pleased with the results that I have made it several times since!
Here is what you will need to make 1 large loaf.
- 500g Strong White Bread Flour
- 40g Butter, softened
- 12g (2 sachets) Dried Fast Action Yeast
- 300ml Warm Water
Before you have a go at this recipe – I highly recommend that you go and watch the video at the top of this linked page first. It’s a step by step with Paul Hollywood himself and he gives you bundles of tips along the way!
So first up, sift the flour into a large bowl then add in the butter. Add the yeast on one side and the salt on the opposite. (Salt can kill yeast so you want to keep them separate.)
Mix the ingredients briefly then add in half the water. Next, get your hands in and give it a good swirl- keep adding the water until you have picked up all the flour from the bowl. (You may not use all the water – you may need more.) Then scrunch the dough in your hands until it forms one big lump.
Tip out the dough onto an oiled surface. (Don’t use flour as it will affect the consistency of the dough.) Now for the therapeutic part – kneading. I have never really found a good technique until now. If you skip to about 1 minute into the video I linked at the top – Paul shows you the technique he uses. I tried it with this bread and it worked brilliantly!
So knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic (at least 8-10 minutes) then shape into a ball and place back into the bowl. Cover with either a damp tea towel or lightly oiled cling film and leave in warm place to double in size. This will take approx 1 hour.
Top Tip! If you’re using cling film – I find that if you get a marker pen and draw a line on it to show the size the dough started at – you’ll be able to tell when it has doubled far easier than judging by eye.
When the dough has doubled in size – tip it out onto a lightly floured surface. (Using flour is ok now as you’re not going to incorporate it into the dough.) Then knock out the air by using the same kneading technique you used earlier. When there are no air bubbles left in the dough, shape it into whatever shape you like (I opted to stick with Paul’s cob shape) and place onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Remember it will rise/spread so make sure the tray is big enough.
DO NOT use grease proof paper as it will stick! The last thing you want is to be peeling paper from the bottom of the bread you spent hours preparing!
Cover with a tea towel and leave to double in size again in a warm place. Once again, it should take about 1 hour. About 40 minutes in – preheat your oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C and place a roasting tin half filled with cold water into the bottom.
When the oven is preheated – put the bread (still on it’s tray) into the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes. I always turn mine halfway to ensure an even bake.
It’s cooked when it is risen, golden and hollow when tapped on the bottom. When all these 3 boxes are ticked – take out the oven and place on a wire rack to cool before breaking out the butter!
I literally cannot describe how good this bread is! The middle is so unbelievably soft and the flavour is amazing! There is officially nothing better than home made bread. I absolutely LOVE the smell that wafts through your house as soon as you open the oven too… mmm.
I mentioned earlier that as a result of my success with this recipe I have made it a few times now. I also tried a variation for a half and half bread. (Pictured above.) Simply reduce the strong white flour from 500g to 250g and add in 250g of wholemeal, seed & grain flour. Make exactly the same as above.
I have also tried a herby white loaf. Just add 1tsp of herbs de provence and 2 tsp of dried chives into the mix at the start – then make the same as above. To be honest all variations of this recipe that I have tried have been unbelievably nom! You can’t go wrong!
I am definitely going to be trying lots more bread recipes now I know that I can do it! I implore you all to give it a go – bread making is so therapeutic and much better for you/tastier than shop bought!
On your marks, ready, set… bake!