The humble loaf. Often I squeeze some dough into a loaf pan, stick it in the oven and forget about it for 30 minutes or so. Not today though. I’m giving my usual failsafe recipes a holiday and trying something new. Plus I have a few more days off before I start my new job so want to get some quality baking in.
I wanted a bread with a slightly sweeter, buttery taste and from plenty of research (hello, Google), the general consensus was the addition of butter, obviously, and egg to give it a richer flavour. With the addition of egg, it reminded me of challah, so I decided to braid it like one.
500g strong bread flour
50gr unsalted butter, chopped into little chunks
1 x 7gr sachet of easy blend (fast action yeast)
2tbsp caster sugar
1 egg (medium/large)
Around 250ml tepid water
1, Sift the flour into a large bowl and add in the butter, yeast, sugar and salt. Rub the butter between your finger tips until it is fully incorporated and there are no visible large lumps.
2, Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add in the egg with 200ml of the tepid water. Start to bring this together with a fork, adding more water if necessary, until you are left with a lump of dough that isn’t sticky to the touch.
3, Turn the dough out onto a work surface that has been lightly dredged in flour and knead for between 5-10minutes until the dough is soft and elastic. Pop in an oiled bowl and cover with oiled clingfilm. Leave this somewhere warm for an hour or until it has doubled in size.
4, Knock back the dough with your fist and give it another quick knead so that it is smooth Divide the dough into six equal pieces and stretch and roll into sausages about 3cm thick. I couldn’t video myself doing the plaiting but I followed this video. It’s really easy when you get into the swing of it.
5, When you have finished tucking in the ends of the completed dough plait, brush it lightly with melted butter or olive oil, put on a lined baking sheet and very loosely cover with oiled clingfilm to prevent sticking. Return to the warm place for about 20-30minutes
6, Preheat your oven to 220o/c and bake the bread for around 20 minutes. I covered my loosely with foil after about 10 minutes to prevent it darkening too much.
7, Remove from the oven when the loaf is cooked. To test this, tap the bottom of the loaf, if it sounds hollow then you’re on to a winner.
8, Leave to cool, slightly, before tearing apart.