Everyday White Loaf

Bread, butter, Jam. Three things that evoke a sense of comfort, they sort of take you back to your childhood days. Other than reasons like not completing my homework, I remember fake-falling-ill just to have bread, butter, jam. Not that I wouldn’t get them otherwise, but it was the thing you got in abundance when you fell ill. Toasted bread prescribed by the doc and butter and jam were incentives of course, I mean, the poor child is ‘ill’. The infamous Kissan mixed fruit jam slathered on store bought, white bread and then comes the seal dealer, butter, lots of it. They would be stacked as a sandwich and given to you with a cup of hot milk, in my case, Complan. I would feel instantly over the moon. These are what simple things do to you. Simple things that we don’t, for some reason, indulge in enough anymore. Now, we are all about whole wheats and multigrains that are ostensibly good for us.

When I baked this all-white-maida bread,  Pavan asked me if it was healthy. I was like, “I don’t know, it’s maida”. And then he said, “it’s food at the end of the day ya, food is good for everybody”. There’s  a reason I married him. I have said this once and I’ll say it again – there is nothing more satisfying than baking your bread at home. It takes time, but it is worth it.

*From Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup tepid water
  • 1/2 tbsp active, dry yeast
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/8 cup (28 g) unsalted butter

Makes one standard loaf

Method

  • Simmer water in a saucepan till its lukewarm. Tip in the yeast and the sugar into half the warm water and give it a whisk. Let it sit for 5 minutes, until it’s creamy and frothed up.
  • If you have a stand mixer or even a hand blender, attach the dough hooks. Add the remaining warm water to the yeast mixture and half the flour. Start beating the dough in low speed. Remember to switch off and switch off the beater in intervals. You do this till the dough comes together. Now, add the remaining flour. Start beating in medium speed. At this point, if the dough hasn’t come together, you can add a tablespoon or 2 of flour. Beat continuously for 10 minutes. The dough should be soft and elastic. After your dough has been beaten for 10 minutes, add salt and continue to beat. Rule of thumb when it comes to baking bread, yeast hates salt and that’s why you add salt at last.
  • Now add the butter, a tablespoon at a time. At this point, your dough might look like it’s starting to fall apart. But don’t be alarmed. It will come together with beating. After all the butter has been tipped in, beat for some more time at medium speed.
  • Turn the dough into a work surface. Bring it together and make into a ball. Take a nice big bowl and brush the inside with oil. Place the dough in it. Roll it in the bowl on all sides such that the entire surface of the dough is well oiled. Cover the bowl with cling film and let it sit for 45 minutes or until the dough has risen and doubled in volume.
  • You will need a 81/2 by 41/2 loaf tin. Brush the loaf tin with butter. Set aside.
  • When the dough has risen after 45 minutes, deflate it. Take it out, place it on a work surface and stretch it out to a rough rectangle, measurements being 12 by 9. The short side should be facing you. I did it with hand but you can use a rolling pin to do it. You can place a parchment paper on your work surface before placing to dough to avoid it sticking to the surface.
  • Now, take the top end, and fold it 2/3 the way down the rectangle. Again, starting from the top, fold it to the bottom end and seal it right by pinching both the ends together. Turn the dough over such that the sealed side is on top. Turn the sides inwards (towards the loaf) and seal it tight. Place the dough into the loaf tin (sealed side down). Spray cling film with oil. Wrap it over the loaf tin. Allow it to  rest for 45 minutes. This process is called Proofing. Preheat your oven to 190 C.
  • Once the dough has been proved, remove the cling film. Press the dough with your finger gently and the impression should last. Then, place the loaf in the preheated oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the top has browned.
  • Once baked, you should be able to remove the bread loaf from the tin easily. Slice it only after it has cooled down completely.

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