I’ve made a few loaves and shaped them by hand, and I’m beginning to get the feel for baking bread. I’ve produced a steadily improving sequence of loaves, picked up some helpful techniques, as well as learned a few lessons the hard way.
Having watched the first Fabulous Baker Brothers show on Channel 4, I realised I’d not yet baked a loaf in a tin, and so decided to have a go following Tom’s recipe (the title was not just self congratulatory).
Although I have made dough with oil in before, it doesn’t feature in the recipe I have used most regularly. This recipe has a slightly lower hydration than I’m used to and, between that and the oil, I could feel a difference. The dough seemed a little harder to work at first (I’ve since thought that this might also have to do with using a different flour. The answer will reveal itself in the fullness of time, I’m sure!).
About 5 minutes before I gave up kneading, I felt it turn a corner in terms of texture. Looks like the extra heave-ho was worth it!
Having left it for just under an hour (a period in which I discovered (a) Lapsang Souchong is awesome; and (b) tweeting with floury fingers is both hard and a mistake), the dough had doubled in size. I stretched and turned the dough (see FBB Ep.1 for a demonstration), and then rolled and sealed it up. It seemed a little bit longer than my loaf tin, but with a bit of persuasion it fitted in reasonably neatly. I was reasonably generous with the oil, as I feared sticky-doom, and really wanted to avoid a “lovely looking loaf, shame you can’t get it out to eat it” scenario.
Sadly, due to a distinct lack of hotel-stays of late, I didn’t have a disposable shower-cap handy. Tom used one to cover the proving dough on the show, which caused quite a stir on twitter… They can be useful for any proving, but when proving in a tin, you want the dough to rise above the top of the receptacle, and therefore using cling film can prove limiting, and the cap technique appears to really come into its own. I had to settle for a clean, floured, tea-towel. It doesn’t keep the moisture in as well as bathing head-wear, but allowed room for my burgeoning loaf to emerge.
I’d preheated the oven, with a baking tray on the floor of the oven for the cup of water that Tom “throws” in. For some reason I had not, until this bake, tried this technique (the water, not the throwing!), but I will certainly be using it again. The crust on this loaf was the best I’ve achieved yet. I’ve also seen the suggestion of using a spray bottle (or mister) directly onto the loaf as it goes in, and again ten minutes into the bake. I’ll try that soon too and see which I prefer. Either way – humidity is your crust’s friend!
After half an hour I had the loaf you see at the top of the post. I was satisfied, and Tom called it “impressive” and “ace” on Twitter. Who am I to argue?!
Yes I’m a sucker for praise, whannamakesomethingofit?!