This recipe is very much based on practical every day use. The flour used comes from Little Salkeld Watermill – you can of course use any flour, but the bread will differ depending on the flour used, and so might need more or less water. I very much prefer the white flour from the Watermill; it has more substance than most white flours, so give some texture and taste to the bread – on the other hand, if you are after a fully white loaf, you need some bleached flour and something that is a bit lighter.
For a brown bread, substitute the white flour for 700g Special Blend flour from The Watermill, 50 g sunflower seeds, and 250 g white flour. Don’t add butter, but put approx. 3 tbsp honey in instead.
Measure the dry ingredients in a big bowl and mix.
Add the butter and mix it around. I use Lurpak unsalted spreadable – it gives the same taste as the butter, but is easy to knead straight out from the fridge.
Start by putting 650 ml water in, and mix well in the bowl with a spatula. If it looks rather dry, add a bit more water. It’s more difficult to knead the dough when it is “wet”, but it makes the final bread lighter.
Knead the bread until it is elastic and “a push with a finger” in the dough more or less disappears. When you are used to it, the kneading should only take 10 min. Oil the bowl, and put the bread back in, and put cling film over the bowl.
Put in a cold place overnight (or for approx. 6 hours). We are lucky to have a proper cold store (used to be the old farm dairy) so easy to do that. If you either don’t have a cold place (fridge would do if need be and there is space) or want the bread quicker, the rising time is 2 to 3 hours.
When risen to double size, turn out on the table, divide in two, and form two loaves and put them each in a 2 pound tin.
Put back to rise again, this time in a warm place, for about 1 hour to 1.30 min. The bread should by that time have risen just over the top of the tin.
Sprinkle some flour on top (or some sunflower seeds if the brown version), and bake for about 35 min in a 220 C (190 to 200 C in fan oven) oven. Take the bread out of the form immediately, and do the “knocking” test: gently knock at the bottom of the bread – if it sounds hollow, it is finished. If not, put it back in for another five minutes.