Try our next level recipe for crusty white bread – it takes a lot longer to prepare but the result will be the best loaf of bread you've baked at home
- Preparation and cooking time
- Prep:30 mins
- Cook:30 mins
- plus at least 2 hrs 10 mins proving and cooling
- More effort
- Serves 8
- Low fat
- 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 4g fast-action dried yeast
- 10g fine sea salt, sea salt flakes or table salt
- STEP 1
Tip the flour into a large bowl along with the yeast. Pour over 325g room-temperature water (you’ll get a more accurate amount by weighing the water, but you can also use 325ml, depending on your scales), then use your hands or a spatula to mix until a dough forms. It’s important that you ensure all of the flour is mixed in, including any bits around the side of the bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rest for 30 mins.
- STEP 2
Sprinkle over the salt, then work it in by stretching the dough over the salt several times until fully incorporated. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface. Use the heel of one hand to stretch the dough while you hold it with your other hand. Then, fold the dough back onto itself, turn it 90 degrees to the left and repeat. Do this for about 5 mins, or until the dough looks shinier and immediately bounces back when rolled into a tight ball or gently poked. Roll the dough into a tight ball, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to prove at room temperature for 1 hr until doubled in size. Or, for a deeper flavour, transfer to a clean bowl, cover and leave to prove in the fridge overnight until doubled in size. Cold dough is easier to work with, so overnight is best.
- STEP 3
When the dough has doubled in size and is light and pillowy, tip it out onto a work surface and knead it a few more times to knock the air out. Gather the dough into a ball and leave to rest for 5 mins. Gently form the dough ball into a tight, rounded shape on the work surface, then tip domed-side down into a proving basket or bowl lined with a clean tea towel. Leave to prove in a warm place for 40 mins-1 hr, or in the fridge for 2-3 hrs until roughly doubled in size.
- STEP 4
Put a casserole along with its lid in the oven, then heat the oven to 230C/210C fan/gas 8. Once the oven is at temperature, remove the casserole. Flip the dough onto a square of baking parchment, slash it using a sharp knife and use the sides of the parchment to carefully lower the dough (still on the parchment) into the hot casserole. Cover with the lid. Bake for 25 mins. Remove the lid and bake for 5-10 mins more until it has a deeply golden, crisp crust and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack for 40 mins before slicing. Will keep in an airtight container for up to two days.