Monster Crusty Bread

We are going to the village picnic tomorrow and of course picnics mean sandwiches.

I’ve made this bread several time this week, I thought I ought to share it as I have baked another loaf for tomorrow’s picnic lunch.

It’s a monster loaf, suitable for the hungriest of families.

Ingredients

600g strong white flour

1 tablespoon dried milk

1 teaspoon caster sugar

4 teaspoons of instant yeast (this is what made it monster)

2 teaspoons salt

350ml of slightly warm water

2 tablespoons olive oil.

Method

I hadn’t thought this recipe through when I made it, I adapted it from a crusty loaf I made before. This is what I did to get the monster size …

Add the yeast and sugar to the water.

While the water mix is doing its thing put the other ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

After about 10 minutes your water mix should have a frothy head.

Pour the water mix into your flour and use your dough hooks to mix it well.

Once the dough us taking shape finish the kneading by hand on a floured surface.

Once kneaded, allow the dough to rest, cover it up for almost an hour in the mixing bowl.

The dough will double its original size.

After the hour knock the air out of the dough and make it into a boule shape. Ensuring the surface tension of the dough is tight.

Leave the dough to rise again, cover it with a clean tea towel.

It takes approximately an hour to rise, test it by pressing gently onto the surface. The dough should slowly go back to its shape and it shouldn’t feel sticky.

At this point heat the oven to 240C for 15 minutes. I used a cast iron Dutch oven, I heated that too but you can use a pizza stone or whatever you prefer, just make sure you heat it also.

Once the oven is hot I slash the dough to allow for controlled expansion.

Carefully transfer the dough into your Dutch oven or onto your pizza stone/baking sheet.

In the case of using a Dutch oven then bake for twenty minutes covered, then uncover your bread and bake for a further 20 minutes at a cooler temperature of 200C until it’s a golden brown. Test for doneness by tapping the base of the bread, if it is hollow sounding it’s ready.

If you are not using a Dutch oven and just using a baking sheet or pizza stone then bake as normal for 35 minutes approximately. If you wish you can use a steam dish at the bottom of the oven for the first 20 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 200C after 20 minutes.

Once your bread is ready allow it to cool fully on a wire rack before you slice it.

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