“When someone cooks with love, the meal deserves to be celebrated. You get dressed, choose a killer playlist, and pour a glass of wine then sit down to share the magic with your loved ones.” — Brendon D’Souza
In the middle of typing out a fairly lengthy email at work, my phone vibrates. It’s Dad. A red box of Lowan Whole Foods Instant Dried Yeast appears on the screen. He’s finally found it! For weeks we’ve been on the hunt for a packet of dried yeast. The fourth-highest sought commodity after toilet paper, hand sanitiser, and plain flour. Not too long after the lockdown, Dad had picked up a 5kg bag of bread-making flour thinking it was plain flour. We could finally put it to good use.
As you can imagine, I jumped straight on the #BakeCorona bandwagon. Out came the Pyrex mixing bowls and measuring jug, and the plastic kitchen scale. Years ago I bought a book called Bread Revolution by Duncan Glendenning and Patrick Ryan. The pair had quit their day jobs and founded their artisan bakery The Thoughtful Bread Company so that they could ‘put a smile on people’s faces’ with bread that was lovingly crafted and shaped by hand. It’s a song that foodies have tooted for years. Making food the old fashioned way with time, love, and passion. It seemed to align perfectly with the requirements of the lockdown. We had to slow down and learn to relish in a simpler life. Spending more time surrounded with our immediate family or housemates. For most households, this included cooking more meals at home and actually having the time to sit down to a shared meal instead of eating on the go or by oneself.
My first loaf worked out fairly well. It rose in the tin and had a light brown crust and was demolished within the hour with plenty of butter. Still, I felt I needed to give it another try. This time adding a little more olive oil to the base dough to make it more elastic. This helps to give it a longer shelf life too. I let this batch rise on the tray and scored it with a sharp knife to give the bread a chance to rise and create those perfect cuts. Another secret I learned probably by accident is that dough will continue to rise even in cold conditions. I had left a batch to rest overnight in the fridge in an oil-lined bowl wrapped in cling film. Funnily enough it had grown about four times its original size and produced one of the fluffiest loafs I think I have ever baked. A few loaves later I was adding in melted butter and egg yolks which produced a golden crumb and deep hazelnut crust. This is an adaptation of Duncan and Patrick’s white loaf.
PREP TIME 25 MINS* | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR | MAKES 1 LARGE LOAF (700G)
* Allow for an extra 60 to 90 minutes to proof the dough
- 600g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 125g unsalted butter, melted
- 300 ml water
- 3 egg yolks, plus 1 extra egg for glazing
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp instant dried yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- Olive oil, for greasing
- Place the flour, salt, sugar, and dried yeast into a large mixing bowl. Combine the wet ingredients in a medium jug and slowly add to the dry ingredients. Combine using a whisk to form a sticky dough.
- Dust a clean work surface with flour. Tip out the dough and then knead for 10 minutes to form an elastic and pliable dough. You can test the dough by poking it with your finger and it should bounce back into shape.
- Brush a large clean mixing bowl with the olive oil. A clear glass bowl is handy so you can easily check on how the dough rises. Cover with a clean tea towel or cling wrap and set aside for 60 to 90 minutes for the first proof.
- Remove the covering and ‘knock-back’ the dough by gently punching it down. Turn it out onto a clean work surface and shape onto an oval. Transfer this to a loaf tin lined with baking paper. Allow the bread to proof for a second time.
- Preheat an oven to 230C (450F or gas mark 8). Position 2 baking racks in the centre and base of the oven. After 10 minutes reduce the temperature to 210ºC (400F or gas mark 6). Your bread goes into the top rack, and a baking dish filled 2cm high with cold water on the bottom rack. The water will steam and help the bread to rise evenly.
- The bread will take about 35 to 50 minutes to cook. You’ll know it’s done as your kitchen will suddenly be filled with an incredibly rich yeasty aroma. The top of the loaf will be golden and the loaf will sound hollow when tapped.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Once cool enough you can remove the loaf from the tin.
- Slice thick and serve with butter or your favourite spread. Enjoy!
Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2020 | Brendon D’Souza (@brendonthesmilingchef)
– Brendon D’Souza
Follow me on Instagram at @brendonthesmilingchef