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Freshly baked bread

Ingredients

  • 1kg/2lb 3¼oz type 'T55' strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

  • 550ml/1 pint water, at room temperature

  • 20g/¾oz fresh yeast

  • 15g/½oz salt

  • vegetable oil, for greasing

  • small dish of salted water

  • butter and cheese, to serve (optional)

Preparation method

  1. Slowly mix the flour, water, yeast and salt in the bowl of a food processor using the dough hook attachment for 4-5 minutes, or until the mixture comes together as a soft, elastic dough.

  2. Alternatively, mix the flour, water, yeast and salt together in a large mixing bowl, using your hands, until it comes together as a dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead firmly for 8-10 minutes, pushing the dough away from you using the heel of your palm, then lifting the folding the stretched dough back over itself, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

  3. Cover the dough, in its bowl, with a damp tea towel or a sheet of cling film. Set aside in a warm place for one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size (proved).

  4. When the dough has proved, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and knock it back. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and flatten them into leaf-shaped loaves.

  5. Grease a baking tray lightly with oil, then sprinkle it all over with flour. Place the loaves onto the baking tray, at least 20cm/8in apart.

  6. Brush the loaves all over with the salted water, then dust with more flour. Score the tops of the loaves several times using a sharp knife, then set aside for a further 15 minutes, or until they have proved again.

  7. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 240C/460F/Gas 9.

  8. When the loaves have proved, bake them in the oven for eight minutes.

  9. Open the oven door and continue to bake for a further two minutes.

  10. Reduce the oven temperature to 190C/370F/Gas 5, then close the door and continue to bake for 30 minutes, or until the loaves are risen and pale golden-brown and make a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.

  11. Remove the bread from the oven and set aside on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm with butter and cheese.

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