Monday, 6 February 2012

A Simple White Loaf

My God it's difficult to find a loaf of bread with a nice crust in this town.  I used to hate eating the crust of the bread when I was small, but now it's like, is there anything better than hearing that light, crisp sound as you gently squeeze a good loaf of bread?

This should've risen more... But what matters is the taste and it tastes great.  Nothing better than good bread and cheese.  My friends, Nat, Sarah and I often get together and indulge in decadent cheeses and pates and bread together.  These things that I used to take for granted in Italy, these things that are so incredibly cheap in Italy, so readily available at any deli, these poor man's foods... are just luxuries here.  I'm not used to these things being so expensive.  The delis here sadden me.

So St. Andrews is a town of..I don't know, I think less than 20,000 people.  Half of which are university students.  We've got two cheesemongers (not bad), 1 deli and a half (one has now become half butcher's, half deli) and a little Italian shop.  We've got three supermarkets, but only one of them is really in town center.  I come from a city of 17 million people, it's difficult adjusting to this.  I think I'd like living in London.  I'd find good bread in London.  I'd find everything in London, at better prices too.  You know what St.Andrews needs? An Ethnic shop.  A Chinese supermarket or something.  Every town needs a Chinese supermarket.  I often think about transferring to London but.. Oh well.  It's okay. Two more years.  Maybe it's a good thing being here without anything, without too many nice restaurants and stuff, it motivates me to cook.

500g strong bread flour
7g dry active yeast
10g salt
350ml water

Mix all the ingredients together until it forms a dough.  Place on a well-floured surface and knead, you can add more flour or water if necessary, it should be soft but not sticky.  Knead for about 10 minutes until elastic.  Put in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel, put in a warm place and let it rise for about 1 hour.

Take it out and knead for a few more minutes before forming into a ball.  Place on a floured baking sheet and dust with flour.  Cover with a towel and let it rest for another hour in a warm place.  Preheat the oven to 250C and place a pan of water on the bottom shelf.  Make a few slashes on the dough and spray with water or brush with an egg wash (egg mixed with a bit of water).   Place in the oven for 10 minutes before turning the heat down to 220C and leaving it in there for another 25-35 minutes.  It should sound hollow when you tap it, that's when you know it's done :)

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