Farmhouse loaf is a traditional loaf that’s nice and soft, but not too soft. It’s great for just about any kind of sandwich and brings peanut butter and jelly (a staple in our house) to a whole new level, especially if you treat yourself to some nice organic peanut butter and jam. It’s wonderful toasted, smells heavenly while toasting. Simple to make: white flour loaf dusted with flour and baked until well risen and golden. It has a large and tender crumb. This is the kind of old-fashioned, homey bread that a few people were lucky enough to grow up eating, and everyone else wishes they had. A home-made farmhouse loaf appeals to all the senses: the aroma that fills the kitchen as it bakes is unbeatable and the flavour knocks the socks off most shop-bought white loaves.
750 g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
30 g butter or margarine
2 tsp salt
1 x 7 g sachet fast-action dried yeast
about 450 ml tepid water
sunflower oil for greasing
Put the flour into a bowl, rub in the butter with the fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the salt and yeast. Make a well in the middle and pour in the water. Using a wooden spoon, mix to a soft but non sticky dough.
Lightly oil a large bowl. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Shape into a round and place in the bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 – 1½ hours until the dough has doubled in size.
Turn on the dough on to a lightly floured work surface and knock back with your fists. Knead vigorously for 2 – 3 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Lightly oil the loaf tin. Shape the dough to fit the tin, tucking the ends underneath to give a smooth top, and place in the tin. Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave in the warm place to rise for about 30 minutes until the dough reaches the top of the tin.
Lightly dust the top of the loaf with flour and bake in preheated oven at 230°C for 30 – 35 minutes until well risen and golden. Turn the loaf out of the tin and tap the base to see if it is cooked: it should sound hollow. Leave the loaf to cool on a wire rack.