Crusty Farmhouse Bread

500g / 18oz Strong white bread flour

305g / 305mls Lukewarm water / 40°C / 104°F

7g / 2tsp Instant or active dried yeast

15g / ½oz Softened butter

8g / 1tsp Salt

6g / 1tsp Sugar

9 x 5 x 2.5" loaf tin

Add the sugar to the warm water and stir, once dissolved, add the yeast and stir it in thoroughly, set it aside until it activates. ** I use instant yeast that is fresh so no activation necessary.

In a bowl, add the salt to the flour and mix together, make a well in the flour. (I use the stand mixer)

Once activated, add the yeast mixture and the soft butter to the well in the bowl, mix together until you have a sticky dough.

Turn out the contents of the bowl onto your worktop, making sure you scrape down all of the flour, from the sides of the bowl.

Using your bench scraper, bring it all together, and hand knead the dough for 10 minutes.

If you wish to use a stand mixer, add all of the ingredients to the machine's bowl, and knead for 10 minutes, using the dough hook attachment.

After the 10-minute kneading, form the dough into a ball, place it into a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl, and let it rise for a minimum of 1 hour in a warm draft-free spot, the dough should at least double in size (this may take longer depending on the temperature of your kitchen)

Grease a 2lb / 900g loaf tin, see video for tin dimensions.  **9 x 5 x 2.5"

After the I hour, turn out the risen dough onto a floured surface and knock the dough back, this simply means force all of the gas out of it.

Form the dough into a sausage shape and place it in the greased loaf tin, gently pressing it down to fill in any gaps in the corners.

Lightly flour the top of the dough, then cover it with a dry light weight cloth, and allow it to proof until it has risen approximately 6cm / 2½ inches, over the top of the tin, this should take approx, 30 to 45 minutes.

When you think there is only 10 minutes left on the proof, preheat your oven to 180°C that’s 355°F or gas mark 4, at the same time, place a pan/dish of hot water on the bottom shelf of your oven, (the steam created will make the loaf top crispier).

Once the dough has fully risen, sprinkle on a little flour, carefully make a slash/cut down the full length and centre, of the dough, using your Lame, or razor blade, and get it into the preheated oven, and set your timer for 30 minutes.

After the 30 minutes remove it from the oven, immediately take it out of the tin, and place it back in the oven, and increase the temperature to 210°C / 410°F / Gas mark 7, bake for a further 6 minutes.

Remove from the oven allow to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, before slicing and serving.

By John Kirkwood