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english farmhouse loaf
I can’t stop thinking about this Paleo diet movement. To me it’s a movement as so many friends have joined up and are trumpeting its benefits. I’m conflicted. On the one hand I love the idea of not eating anything processed at all but on the other hand, I just don’t want to eat meat. Oh. And, um, I eat a lot of bread. I am going to cut down on all this bread eating, really. Not give up; just some healthy moderation.

But for the times when you want it, need it and maybe even love it, here’s a spectacular recipe for a homemade loaf of bread. And even now, I hear my paleo friend’s voice say, “At first it’s hard, then bread begins to disgust you.”

On that note, The English Farmhouse Loaf!

This recipe comes from Delia Smith’s book How to Cook, Book One. I love that title. It truly is a ‘How to cook’ book. I mean, like, how-to-boil-an-egg. I’m terrible at poaching eggs and I know someday when I face this particular and intense fear of ineptly poaching an egg into a slobbery mess, this book will guide me true.

Delia’s bread recipe is called the ‘Plain and Simple White Bread’

english farmhouse loaf

700g bread flour (4 and 3/4 cups)
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
15fl very warm water

Bread flour

bread dough rising

shaping the dough

shaping the dough
1. A great Delia bread trick is to warm up the flour in the oven on a very low setting before you even start. This makes a difference.
2. Add in the rest of the dry ingredients and mix.
3. Add in the warm water and mix with a wooden spoon.
4. Dump on a sparkling clean counter and knead the dough for a few minutes until it is smooth and shiny.
5. Lightly oil a bowl and put in the dough to rise. cover with a tea towel and keep in a warm place for about two hours. (One hour will work too, but the longer the better). I usually pick the oven. But turned off, naturally.
6. Preheat the oven to 450F or 230C.
7. After the dough has doubled in size, knock the air out and knead again for a couple of minutes. Shape into a bread loaf by folding one side in and the other side on top of it.
8. Butter and flour a loaf pan and place the shaped bread dough in, seam side down.
9. Bake in the oven about 40 or 45 minutes. The bread is ready when it is golden brown on top and it makes a hollow sound when you knock on the bottom.

I took a french-bread making course once and as soon as the instructor pulled our finished baguettes out of the massive industrial oven, he ordered us to eat them with a good slab of butter. “This is THE best time to eat bread,” he intoned, “Straight from the oven.”

So obvious, but so true!

fresh bread and butter