This is Dan Lepard’s recipe, and though I haven’t changed the basic ingredients, my method is different. I’ve made this bread oodles of times and have only had repeated success doing it this way.
These are wonderful slices for toast; since it’s more robust than a standard white loaf, it’s excellent for sandwiches, too. See the footnotes for herbing it up, and making croutons.
Makes: One loaf
- 130ml (125g if weighing) soured cream
- 150ml / 150g cold water
- 100ml / 100g boiling water
- 2 tsp sugar (white caster or granulated)
- One 7g sachet dried yeast
- 550g strong white bread flour, plus additional for dusting
- 2 tsp salt
- Vegetable oil, for kneading and clingfilm
- Butter, to grease tin
- Herbs (optional – see footnote)
- A 2lb loaf tin
- Baking/parchment paper, cut to fit the bottom of the tin
- 1 large and one small mixing bowl
- Cooling rack
- Weigh the soured cream, cold and boiling water, and sugar into a small bowl, and whisk by hand until fully combined. Add the yeast and stir thoroughly. Leave until the yeast is bubbling and frothy on top, about 20 minutes.
- Put the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with your hands until the dough forms a rough ball. It will be quite sticky at this point.
- Leave the dough in the bowl, covered with clingfilm, for 10 – 15 minutes to rest.
- Very lightly oil a work surface, and knead the dough vigourously for at least 2 minutes, until the dough feels warmed up in your hands. Put the dough back into the bowl.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 two more times.
- Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave at least one hour in a warm, draught-free place until doubled in size.
- Butter your tin and line the bottom with paper. Very lightly knead the dough into a smooth cylinder the length of your tin, and place in the tin. Put a touch of oil on the underside of your clingfilm and cover the tin loosely. Leave to rise a 2nd time (see footnote) up to 90 minutes, until it’s a few inches above the sides of the tin.
- Preheat oven to 200 C (180 C fan-assisted). Remove the clingfilm, dust the top of the loaf very lightly with flour, and bake for about 45 minutes. Once done (tip it out from the tin enough to rap your knuckles on the bottom and hear a ‘hollow’ sound), remove it from the tin and set to cool on a cooling rack.
- As with most bread, it freezes well – slice the loaf before freezing, place into sealed plastic bags, and pop a frozen slice straight into the toaster.
Notes on Rising
On a warm day, leaving the dough to rise is a doddle. On colder days, it can either take simply ages, or not want to rise at all. On a really cold day when the heating’s on, I’ll put the loaf tin on a radiator, on top of two cork mats so the heat doesn’t directly touch the bottom of the tin. Or, you can turn your oven on to the absolute lowest setting for 2 minutes, turn it off, and leave the tin in with the door open.
Some bakers advocate turning on your oven, opening the door, and leaving the tin on a chair next to the oven. However, this means having the oven on for up to 90 minutes prior to baking, which uses up extra power if you’ve already got the heating on, anyway. (It’s also not very practical with dogs in the house, nor with a wall oven.)
Depending on your taste and larder, you could add a teaspoon or so of your favourite dried herb(s). Rosemary, sage, chives, marjaram, oregano, or thyme are all good ideas – add to the flour and salt prior to pouring in the wet ingredients. You could also sprinkle some more herbs over the top of the loaf, in lieu of or with the flour, prior to baking.
I’ve made this recipe with 1 tsp dried thyme and 1/4 tsp dried chives, plus a quick grinding of rainbow peppercorns added to the flour/salt. Not only was the resulting loaf utterly delicious, it produced the best croutons I’ve ever made:
Break into crouton-sized clumps, and fry on a very high heat in butter and oil, turning constantly, until golden brown; drain on kitchen paper.