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Basic White Bread

I have been playing around with a bread recipe for two months now. Since we only eat bread on our cheat day (we're on paleo), it took a while to get it to where I wanted it to. Bread in Denmark is remarkably different from the bread in Portugal and we find ourselves craving for something authentic, from time to time. A few years ago, my dad gave me a recipe for bread that could be tweaked to what I was looking for in a loaf of bread, with a range of possible percentages for flour and yeast instead of quantities.
The husband is very particular in regard to what kind of bread he likes: it has to be light, with small air holes, a slight bitter taste and a soft crust. After a lot of experimentation, I finally discovered the combination that would result in that type of bread: white but strong flour, steam in the oven for a soft crust, overnight proving for bitter taste and a smaller second proving for small air holes. And that is the recipe that I'm sharing today!


Ingredients

  • 500g (4 1/3 cups) strong white flour (check note)
  • 350g (12.35oz) cold water
  • 10g (0.35oz) salt
  • 20g (0.7oz) baker's yeast
Note: The flour plays an important role in the way your bread will look and how it will taste. I used a T55 type of flour considering the Portuguese nomenclature. In Denmark, they identify the flour by the percentage of protein - in this case 12%. You can check here for different kinds of flour and how to identify them. Also, keep in mind that if you want a darker bread you should use a stronger flour (or a combination of two kinds). 

Instructions

Start by crumbling the yeast in the flour with your hands. Dissolve the salt in the water and add it to the flour and yeast.



Mix well and now it's time to work the dough. If kneading the dough by hand, it might take you 15-20 minutes. You want an elastic dough that doesn't break when pulled. Because you're using 70% water, the dough will be a bit wet and it will seem unmanageable at first. But it will soon become easier and it won't stick to your hands as much. Once you're done kneading, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it prove in the fridge overnight, or leave it out for 3-4 hours (or until it doubled in size). I like to keep it overnight so that it can acquire a sightly bitter taste.



The next day (or a few hours later), shape the dough and let it rise in a floured oven tray, until it has doubled in size. If you left the dough in the fridge overnight, it will take a while to get to room temperature and rise accordingly. Mine took about an hour. Cutting the dough on top is optional. Place a baking tin on the bottom of the oven with water, and bake in a preheated oven to 230ºC (450ºF) for 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 200ºC (400ºF) and bake for 30-40 minutes (the steam from the water will make the crust softer).


To check if the bread is baked properly, tap the bottom of the loaf and look for a hollow sound. Let it cool down before slicing it.


Serve and enjoy your homemade loaf of bread.



For a print friendly version visit this recipe at my Recipes page.

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