Wednesday, 14 May 2008

The Softest Bread

I love making bread. I am not sure why. The silky feel of kneaded dough? The visual wonder of watching it increase to such a size as it reacts to the yeast? The simple satisfaction of punching it down? The air redolent with the smell of freshly made bread? I have no idea but it never takes much encouragement for me to carry out this most satisfying of tasks. The reward is tearing off a piece straight from the oven, spreading it thickly with butter and just savouring the taste of warm fresh bread as the butter runs down your chin. Bread is merely flour, water, yeast and salt as the world is merely earth, water, fire and air. These four elemental ingredients-grain from the fields,water from mountain streams, leavening from wild yeasts in the air and salt from the sea- have been combined since Roman days to make the breads of Italy. In a country where the family is the primary source of physical and emotional sustenance, bread celebrates the richest and simplest of pleasures of daily living. It is the single inevitable presence at the table during all three meals of the day, for no Italian would contemplate a meal without bread. This from a lovely book, 'Bread in Italy' by Carol Field which was a gift from my lovely Italian friend Carlotta. I was reading through it for the umpteenth time when a recipe caught my eye. Pane in Cassetta which is basically sandwich bread. What made me look twice was the promise of a fine crust and a soft bread. It was however baked in a Pullman pan which is a large loaf pan with a sliding lid. I cast about for something I could use to replicate this pan and hit on the idea of placing another loaf tin on top. The result was truly amazing. Such a soft loaf which indeed is perfect for sandwiches but so much nicer than the sandwich loaves we are used to seeing in the supermarkets. The basic recipe is the same as for all bread. The difference is in the folding. I reduced the amounts as the Pullman pan is 13 inches in length and although I have extra large loaf tins they are not as big as the required pan.

600gms/1lb 6oz white bread flour
400mls/14fl.oz tepid water
50gms/2oz lard melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teasps salt
One envelope or a teasp of fast action yeast.

Mix all the ingredients together and knead for ten minutes by hand/ five mins with a dough hook in the mixer/approx 1 minute in the food processor.
Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl covered with cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size-about an hour.

Flatten the dough on a lightly floured work surface to expel the air bubbles.
Roll out to form a rectangle approx 9"x15"/23cmsx40cms.
Fold in thirds like a business letter then roll out and fold again.
Flatten the dough to fit into the buttered floured pan.
The strong and compact dough should fill the pan about half way
Place another pan of the same size, well buttered, on top.

Leave to rise in a warm place for approx 1/2 -1 hour covered with the other tin. It should rise to nearly the top of the tin.
Bake in a pre-heated oven 200.C/400.F/Gas 6 for an hour.
Gently unmould onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

A wonderfully soft flavoursome loaf

Notes The pans I used measured 23.5x19.3x6.99cms/9.25x5.25x2.75 inches
You can substitute oil instead of lard but this will make a difference to the texture.
Remember lard has half the saturated fat of butter.



24 comments:

Linda F said...

Your bread always makes me salivate Brenda!!!!! And then want to go straight to the kitchen -which isnt a bad thing!:)

Anna said...

Brenda, that bread looks absolutely amazing!
I don't think I could trust myself to have just one slice...
:-)

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Homemade bread it's the best thing! Looks better than any store bough kind! It really looks soft, yummy!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That loaf looks gorgeously smooth and delicious! Better than store-bought bread...

Cheers,

Rosa

Maria said...

Nothing like home-mdae bread. Yum!!

Maria
x

culinarytravelsofakitchengoddess said...

Brenda that looks amazing :)
Now I want to get baking. I love working with yeast too. It's so rewarding, but like you I can't put my finger on exactly why.

Oh my! Apple pie! said...

Gorgeous photo, I can almost taste it.
My kids would love that bread. I will be baking this very soon.

Kelly-Jane said...

Wow what a great loaf you've baked there :)Well done.

Syrie said...

Brenda, I don't normally eat white bread but this looks so irresistable. I'l love some with butter and jam.

jaygirl said...

That has to be the best looking home made loaf I have ever seen, no exaggeration.

Rita X

Vicky (victoria sponge) said...

Cor Granny. I'll be ordering my bread from you from now on. 2 loaves a week please!
Vicky xxx

Sally said...

Butter and Marmite on mine please.
Looks lovely.
x x x x

Rhyleysgranny said...

Thank you ladies for your comments. I made some rolls today using the same recipe and method and they were lovely. I put them in a roasting tin and covered with a baking tray. Worked a treat.
xxx

Kevin said...

That bread does look really soft and fluffy and good! I really enjoy the smell of baking bread and that first slice when it is just out of the oven with melting butter...mmm...

JillyB said...

I love coming to your blog Brenda. I've learned that I can make bread in the food processor and that lard contains half the sat fat of butter. Do you think the recipe would make a good lardy cake?

Rhyleysgranny said...

Jilly I have only recently heard of lardy cake. I must try it
xxx

Nickki said...

WOW that looks better than any homemade bread I have ever seen. I'm dreaming of having a slice with lots of butter and lemon curd xxxx

Jerry said...

The bread looks lovely and I so want a piece.

Anonymous said...

This recipe sounds divine, I will now be shopping all over Wellington looking for lard as they don't have it at my local supermarkets, will try the butcher next. The book also looks inviting!! Jen x

Rosie said...

Brenda you really have the true gift of making bread!! This looks so divine I could just eat a slice now mmmmmmm.... Gorgeous photo too

Rosie x

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

So soft, so pillowy! Have you tried the recipe with whole wheat flour? Considering making this for the kids. Thanks for sharing!

Jude said...

Found your blog through kitchen goddess. Looks like a really nice recipe to try.

Anonymous said...

An hour seems a long time... does it take an hour and do you keep the top tin on all the time??
Lovely looking bread, so it must work.

Rhyleysgranny said...

Hi Anonymous. It depends on the temperature of the room. I usually find about forty minutes does it. definitely no less than 30 minutes Thank you for your comment.