Saturday, February 6, 2010

Nigella Lawson's White Bread Recipe

Although I'm embarrassed to even own a cookbook by this title, it really is a fantastic baking cookbook. As requested by Ashley, here are basic instructions for a very basic loaf of white bread. I've borrowed heavily from Nigella, but most of the more, er... technical... terms are my own. :)

Total Ingredient list:

~3.5 C white bread flour
1 tbsp/package yeast
1 tbsp salt
~ 1 1/3 C warm water (NOT hot... if it feels hot to your hand it will probably kill the yeast, and then you'll have, essentially, matzah. Which is fine if you like unleavened bread, but probably not what you're going for here).



Put the following in a bowl:

3.5 Cups white bread flour

1 package yeast OR 1 tbsp yeast (rapid rise is nice, but the other is cheaper so I usually use the standard stuff Costco sells).

1 tbsp salt

3/4 C water

Mix until it's a homogenous mess. You may have to add additional water.

Add 1 tbsp melted butter (oil will also work)

Start kneeding... I use a stand mixer, but if you don't have one basically mix in as much flour as you need to keep it from completely sticking to your hands, then start working the dough with your hands. I generally hit the bread dough with the heel of my hand, squoosh it down, then pick up the dough, turn it on its side and do the same thing. This should take roughly ten minutes if you're doing it by hand. My sister swears this is very therapeutic. :) If the bread is sticky wet add a little more flour. If it's so dry that it's not staying together, add water. As you can tell it's not a super exact science. You'll know that you're done kneeding when the dough looks smoother and more elastic-y.

Through the dough into an oiled bowl. Cover top of the bowl and stick it somewhere warm for an hour or two. It should double in size during this first rise. Note: This is also the time when you can stick it in the fridge overnight if you want to actually bake it the next day.

Punch down the dough. (Yes, literally). You want to deflate it, basically. Then form it into a roughly bread-shaped ball, and plop it into a greased 9x5" bread pan (this is just the standard size bread pan. I've had great luck with ceramic ones, but they can be pricey. Glass works ok. The aluminum non-stick ones can be ok, but I've had problems with their burning the bottom of the bread).

Cover loosly and leave until doubled again. Stick it in a preheated 425F oven for approximately 35 minutes. The loaf should be slightly browned all over and have a hollow sound if you knock the bottom gently with your knuckles (if it doesn't sound hollow, stick it on a cookie sheet and throw it back in the oven for a few minutes). Turn out of pan and cool on a cooling rack (if you don't do this the bottom can get pretty soggy).

7 comments:

  1. You shouldn't doubt your inner goddess... Here is a recipe you might like to try.
    Gingerbread
    14 oz flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp salt
    1.5 tsp cinnamon
    1.5 ground ginger
    1.5 tsp allspice
    1 tsp ground cloves
    0.5 tsp fine white pepper
    8 oz marg or unsalted butter
    5 oz dark brown sugar
    6 oz treacle
    1 egg
    (Cinnamon, ginger cloves and allspice can
    be replaced by ready-bought speculaas
    kruiden)

    Sieve flour, spices, baking powder and
    salt.
    In large bowl beat butter and sugar til
    light and fluffy. Then beat in the egg
    and treacle.
    Carefully beat in the flour mix.
    Wrap in cling film and put in fridge or
    freezer until firm.
    When still cold and firm roll out between
    2 sheets of cling film and cut out shapes
    with a biscuit cutter. The dough can be
    very sticky so I tend to roll little
    balls and flatten them.
    Put on baking sheet with a sheet of
    baking parchment. Bake in preheated oven
    at 180C/350F for 10 - 12 minutes. Watch
    carefully because biscuits easily burn.
    Edges of bicuits should be light brown
    (not dark brown).

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ooh, that looks good. Thanks for the recipe! Now I just have to find an excuse to make them... otherwise I'll eat the whole lot myself.

    It's not the "goddess" bit of the title that bothers me so much as the "domestic" part, I think. I'd last about a week as a '50's style housewife, after which they'd have to pry the meat cleaver out of my clenched, twitching hands...

    Note for Americans: unless I'm mistaken, in KP's recipe, treacle is what we call molasses (although I've also seen it used for golden syrup, for those rare Americans who are familiar with golden syrup), and cling film is saran wrap. It took a couple years living with an Irish woman, but I think I've finally the hang of most of these new-fangled foreign terms.

    ReplyDelete
  3. My theory is that your domestic "zone" is wherever you choose it to be. Otherwise I'd be completely barking.
    Thank you for translating my strange European terms. Treacle is molasses; almost black, sweet and very sticky. Golden syrup is similar but it is much lighter and honey coloured. Just to be obtuse we in Britain and Ireland make treacle tart using golden syrup. Sorry, I wasn't making it easy for anyone by throwing some Dutch in there too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yeah, my domestic zone, it is confined within the limits of a very small student apartment. And I'm very ok with that. That being said, I did find myself cooking Christmas dinner for seven people these past holidays, so clearly some of the domestic upbringing stuck!

    Heh. I remember going through a supermarket here in Vermont with Helen, looking for golden syrup. She was very lucky in that I actually grew up with it so I knew what I was looking for... it's not common here. It turned out that the jerks had changed the tin, which was why it took us so long to actually locate the d*#! stuff.

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