Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (May 2014) and taken from The Baker’s Daughter by Louise Johncox.
Makes 2 x 450g loaves or 1 x 900g loaf
500g super strong premium white flour
2 tsp sugar (optional)
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp fast action dried yeast
300ml warm water
Step One : Lightly grease your loaf tin (or baking sheet). In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar (if using) and salt. Rub in the margarine and stir in the yeast. Stir in the warm water and mix into a soft dough by hand.
Step Two : Knead the dough for 5 minutes in a freestanding food mixer fitter with a dough hook, or turn it out onto a floured surface and knead well by hand for about 10 minutes. Flatten the dough with your knuckles and pull both edges apart before folding them inwards on top of themselves so you have 3 layers of dough. Tightly roll it forwards in order to form a giant swiss roll shape. Keep kneading this way for 5-10 minutes.
Step Three : When your dough feels smooth, place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover it with a clean, damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to prove or until it has almost doubled in size. An airing cupboard is good to use here. This stage can take up to an hour, so don’t rush. You can leave dough to rise in the kitchen, but it will take longer.
Step Four : Tip your dough onto the floured surface. Divide it in half if you are making two small loaves. Shape the dough into a ball, folding it inwards repeatedly until the air is knocked out. Form the dough into an oblong, flatten it out and fold the sides into the middle. Ensure the join runs along the base and the top is smooth.
Step Five : Place the dough in the prepared tin on a baking sheet. Leave the dough to prove for about 1 hour or until it has almost doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 220oC / Gas Mark 7. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the bread is baked through.
Tip : To check if bread is baked, tip it upside down out of the oven and tap it on the base. If it sounds hollow, it’s done. Remove from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool.