For the white loaf
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 7g sachet easy-bake dried yeast (or 2 tsp Quick dried yeast)
Yeast is a living, single-cell organism. As the yeast grows, it converts its food (in the form…
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp soft butter
Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…
For the flavourings
- 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
- 1 tbsp each of sesame and poppy seeds, plus extra for sprinkling
Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Put in the butter and rub it into the flour. Mix in the seeds. Make a dip in the centre of the flour and pour in almost 300ml hand warm (cool rather than hot) water, with a round-bladed knife. Then mix in enough of the remaining water and a bit more if needed, to gather up any dry bits in the bottom of the bowl, until the mixture comes together as a soft, not too sticky, dough. Gather it into a ball with your hands.
Put the dough onto a very lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 mins until it feels smooth and elastic, only adding the minimum of extra flour if necessary to prevent the dough sticking. Place the ball of dough on a lightly floured work surface. Cover with an upturned, clean, large glass bowl and leave for 45 mins-1 hr or until doubled in size and feels light and springy. Timing will depend on the warmth of the room.
Knock back the dough by gently kneading just 3-4 times. You only want to knock out any large air bubbles, so too much handling now will lose the dough’s lightness. Shape into a ball, then cover and leave for 10 mins.
Shape by flattening the dough into a rectangle about 25 x 19cm using your knuckles. Fold both shorter ends into the centre like an envelope, make a ¼ turn, then flatten again into the same size and roll up very tightly, starting from one of the short ends. Seal both ends by pressing down firmly with the side of your hand. Lay the loaf on a baking parchment-lined baking sheet with the join underneath. Using a very sharp knife, make 7-8 diagonal slashes down the length of the loaf, deep enough to open up slightly. Cover and leave for 40-45 mins, or until about doubled in size. Finish by brushing between slashes with water, then sprinkling with alternate lines of seeds.
Put a roasting tin in the bottom of the oven 20 mins before ready to bake and heat oven to 230C/210C fan/gas 8. Put the risen bread in the oven, carefully pour about 250ml cold water into the roasting tin (this will hiss and create a burst of steam to give you a crisp crust), then lower the heat to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Bake for 30-35 mins or until golden. Remove and cool on a wire rack. If you tap the underneath of the loaf if should be firm and sound hollow.