Aga Lovers forum: Basic white loaf

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Feb 25, 2010 4:41 PM CST
This is my latest basic white bread loaf recipe. It is easy and gives a nice result. I have adapted this from the basic loaf in "beard on bread".

4 cups bread flour
1.5 cups warm water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar, honey, or maple syrup
1 tablespoon salt (I use slightly less than a full tablespoon)
1 tablespoon of soft butter to grease bowl and pan

It seems to help if you let the flour get warm first.

put a half cup of warm (100 degree F) water in a bowl in a warm place, and sprinkle the yeast evenly over the surface. Allow it to dissolve for about 10 minutes. Mix in the sugar and leave to proof for about 15 minutes, until foamed up.

While the yeast if prooving, mix 3 and 3/4 cups flour with the salt. Add about 3/4 to 1 cup warm water and stir. Mix in the yeast mixture. The dough might be very dry, if necessary add another tablespoon or two of water to get the hydration correct. Knead for about 10 minutes. I do it by hand but you can toss it in your mixer too.

grease the bowl well with some butter, drop the ball of dough in, and turn the dough to coat will with butter. Cover with saran wrap and leave to rise for about 1 hour or longer. I tend to put it in a not too warm place and let it rise for a long time to develop better texture, but if you are in a hurry just place somewhere warm and let it rise quickly.

When doubled, punch the dough and knead it well for a few minutes. Form into a loaf shape and put in greased 9 inch loaf pan. Let it rise in the pan for about 45 minutes to an hour. Keep and eye on it and dont let it rise too far.

When properly risen, wet the top of the loaf with cold water and if desired cut a slash with a very sharp knife. I do one lengthwise. Put bread immediately into a hot oven (I don't know what would work best in an Aga, but I would try the bottom of the roasting oven, and maybe slid in the shelf when the top browns enough). I put about 1/3 cup hot water right onto the floor of the oven to steam it up. Bake 'til done. I turn the loaf out of the pan after about 30 minutes and put the loaf back into the oven for a few minutes to crisp up the bottom and sides of the loaf and even up the browning.

Let it cool for a few hours and enjoy!

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