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you must understand what to look for. the indicators of what stage it is in. You need knowledge in order to understand what youre looking for. youre stating the equivalent of "cooking a chicken is easy, just put it in the oven"
either you understand what a chicken looks like and how it behaves in its various stages of "cooked", or you lack that knowledge, and while you may still, technically, be "cooking" the chicken, it is entirely a guessing game. It really frustrates me when people try to pass off their knowledge like its commonplace, its arrogant. You may think its casual, but its arrogant and pays no respect to the process, the alchemy, and ritual involved.
ok here we go
in a large, wide mixing bowl
same thing) sprinkled over it
- 500 grams of Strong While flour (simply called bread flour to americans)
- 8 grams of instant/dried/fast-action yeast (several names for essentially the
- 10 grams flaked sea salt (or table. i guess. put about 8 grams in that instance)
just loosely sift these together with your fingers. next, put your hand into the center of the bowl and push the flour out sideways, essentially making a "well" in the center with flour on all sides
into that well, you pour water. this is where it gets tricky..i never measure this. heres what i suggest
start with about a cup and a half of water, into the well. put your hands in the well and start to slowly move it around the center of the bowl clockwise, gradually pulling in small amounts of flour from the sides, working it into the water, and grabbing more.
Once it is no longer possible to do this, and the dough is getting sticky, begin to simply push the entire clump around the bowl, kneading, folding it into itself as you go, trying to pick up the stray deposits of flour you missed. Bear in mind that however wet the dough is, itll firm up a bit after a few minutes of kneading. Add your water carefully and in stages, but ultimately, dont frett if you add too much causing quite a loose dough. That can be fixed via a combination of kneading, and extra flour
Your dough now has everything in it it needs. there are no more ingredients, except......time. whooosh
you ought to knead it about 5-10 minutes in total, better technique means less time. There *are* many ways to knead here, you should find what works for you. All you are doing, is *working* the gluten. Providing agitation. Stretching, pulling, folding and thumping. You can knead it in the bowl, you can turn it onto a counter and put both hands and your whole body into it. you can even pick the thing up, hold it in the air and use your two hands to pull it and fold it and keep bringing it in on itself
done? ok. Put it back in the bowl you had it in (hopefully its at least twice as large as the ball of dough), put some cling film or a kitchen cloth over the top, to prevent draughts of air from causing it to skin, and leave it somewhere warm, say...3 hours max. If you really wanna push it. i leave mine nice and long and get on with other stuff
come back to it, it should be smelling fucking gorgeous by this point, itll be over doubled in volume and bursting with carbon dioxide. plop it out onto a counter, knock out all the stale gasses with your hands and give it less than a minutes kneading to introduce new ones. Now choose your vessel - the style of bread you will make. This quantity is good for either a 2lb loaf tin, a bloomer-style loaf where it just sits on a baking sheet. or you can divide it into 8 or more buns (if they seem like theyll make small buns when you portion it out, trust me, theyll double again, and then some more)
prepare your tray, pan or tin of choice, give it a good buttering and place the dough into it. You need it covered again, this time cling film wont quite manage it. I always just use disposable bin bags - i puff it up full of air, put the tray or tin inside, blow directly into the bag to make sure its puffed up, then scrunch up the opening and bring it around underneath the tin so its weight pinches the bag closed. giving you a big inflated pocket of air for your dough to rise undisturbed
leave it like that another hour or more. When its about ready, get the oven to 220 Celsius, have a rack ready on the middle shelf. As soon as its reached the right temperature, and not a moment before, remove your loaf from its plastic sanctuary. using a keen knife, quickly score it twice or thrice diagonally on its top-side, and slide it into the oven
Give it about 30 minutes, but check the oven after 20. do not open the oven before 20 minues have elapsed, for any reason
If you want to create a better crust you can place another baking tray just on the bottom of the oven. Before the loaf goes in, quickly throw some ice onto the tray. Itll supply a steady supply of steam to the bread above, causing it to crust softer
The loaf is ready when you upturn it from its receptacle and hear a hollow *knock* as you tap on its bottom. It should be coloured on its underside.