My Bread Baking Journey – Round 2: The Paul Hollywood Loaf

After my disastrous first attempt at bread, I decided to call in the big guns and bought not one, but two of Paul Hollywood’s recipe books. I am so determined to get the hang of bread I sat down and read the instructions, tips, suggested baking equipment… everything I could possibly need to know about bread baking before I even thought about making a second attempt.

Turns out I was doing a LOT of things wrong – here are a few tips that I’ve learnt:

  • DON’T mix the salt and the yeast: Apparently when put together they start some type of chemical party that breaks down the yeast; putting them on either side of the bowl before mixing will stop this from happening.
  • DON’T use all the water stated in the ingredients: it is generally accurate but won’t always be perfect. What I do now is pour a little bit more than the recommended amount. Then pour the water bit by bit, stopping whenever the dough is soft and a bit sticky, but not soggy.
  • DON’T use a lot of flour for dusting: this really dries out your dough. Great tip is to use a little bit of olive oil instead (I use around 1-2 tablespoons); it doesn’t dry up your dough, and doesn’t stick. Perfect!

Once I got the theory down, I went back to basics and tried my hand at a simple loaf. I followed the instructions perfectly, and left the dough to rise twice (something else I didn’t do first time round.)

I could already see a difference after the first ‘proving’ stage; the dough had risen so much! It was a lot smoother and easier to work with.

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After the second proving stage I put a roasting tin full of boiling water into the oven, and the dough on the shelf on top. After 10 minutes, that delectable bread-baking smell wafted into the living room leaving our tummy’s rumbling;  20 minutes after that and I was tapping the bottom of my bread to see if it was ready.

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I was good and waited an hour before I cut myself a slice of bread. The crust was lovely and crunchy, and the inside was baked to perfection. YES!!!!

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Furthermore, it tastes amazing! Homemade bread is so much nicer than any shop bought rubbish. My first loaf didn’t last very long; in fact it lasted about a day and a half. Since then I’ve made a dozen loaves and they’ve all been perfect; white bread, wholemeal bread, 50/50 – no matter what mix you use, this recipe always works.

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