Basic White Bread
This simple white bread recipe produces a tasty loaf of good texture for use to make both sandwiches and toast.
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Makes: 1 loaf
  • 500 g (16 oz) strong white bread flour
  • 300 g (10 oz) lukewarm water
  • 4 tbsp lukewarm milk
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp dried yeast
  1. Add the yeast to the water, mix and leave for 10 minutes.
  2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast/water.
  3. Slowly incorporate flour into the water with stirring until you have something resembling porridge in the centre of the bowl. This is called the "sponge". Flick unmixed flour from the side of the bowl onto the sponge. Cover the bowl and leave in a warm place for at least 20 minutes.
  4. Add the milk then incorporate the remaining flour until the have a sticky dough.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Lightly reflour the surface from time to time to prevent the dough sticking to the surface.
  6. Shape the dough into a ball and put into a lightly-greased bowl. Cover and put in a warm place until the dough has about doubled in size.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and knock it back.
  8. Shape the dough into a rectangle such that the short side is the length of your loaf tin.
  9. Roll the dough up, put the seam on the bottom and tuck in the ends.
  10. Place the dough in a lightly-greased loaf tin. Place in a large plastic bag and put in a warm place until the dough has about doubled in size again.
  11. Make a deep slash in the dough with a sharp knife, dust with flour and leave for 10 minutes.
  12. Bake at 210°C (410°F) fan oven, 230°C (450°F) normal oven for 10 minutes. Reduce to 180°C (360°F) fan oven, 200°C (395°F) normal oven and bake for a further 30 minutes.
  13. Remove from the loaf tin and allow to cool
The use of the preferment (the sponge) improves both the taste and texture of the bread. The longer you sponge the more the improvement.

Slashing the surface of a proved loaf cuts the gluten skin on the surface and allows the dough to rise a bit further.

A tall loaf tin is good for this recipe. Mine is 20cm x 10cm x 10cm (8" x 4" x 4").