Friday, 9 July 2010


“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts!” - James Beard

I love the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven and there’s nothing like having a slice of it hot out of the oven with lashings of butter melting over it. Fortunately, nowadays we have the convenience of dried yeast, warm places for it to rise even on the coldest winter day and a reliable oven that will bake it evenly and thoroughly. The following recipe is one we use often and it is remarkably easy to make this bread, even without using any machinery, mixers, bread makers and the like.



•    Melted butter, for greasing and brushing
•    250g plain white flour
•    250g plain wholemeal flour
•    2 tsp (7g/1 sachet) dried yeast
•    1.5 tsp salt
•    375mls (1 1/2 cups) lukewarm water
•    ½ cup oil
•    Extra water, for brushing
•    1 tsp poppy seeds, for sprinkling (optional)

1.    Brush a 10 x 20cm loaf pan with the melted butter to lightly grease. Measure all your ingredients.
2.    Place the plain flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl and mix well to combine. Make a well in the centre and add the lukewarm water and oil to the dry ingredients and mix well.
3.    Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
4.    Shape the dough into a ball. Brush a large bowl with the melted butter to grease. Place the dough into the bowl and turn it over to lightly coat the dough surface with the butter. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and then place it in a warm, draught-free place to allow the dough to rise.
5.    Leave the dough to prove until it is double its size, between 45-75 minutes at 30˚C. When the dough is ready, it will retain a finger imprint when lightly pressed.
6.    Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down in the centre with your fist and knead on a lightly floured surface again for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and elastic and returned to its original size.
7.    Preheat oven to 200°C.
8.    Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and shape each into a smooth round. Place the portions of dough side by side in the greased loaf pan. Brush lightly with the melted butter. Stand the pan in a warm, draught-free place, as before, for about 30 minutes or until the dough has risen about 1cm about the top of the pan.
9.    Gently brush the loaf with a little water and then sprinkle with the poppy seeds if desired. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
10.    Turn the loaf immediately onto a wire rack and allow to cool.
11.    Once cool, store the loaf in a well-ventilated place at room temperature.