Basic bread dough

This versatile dough is easy to work with, quick to make and perfect for a variety of bread products. It makes enough dough for 4 large pizza bases, 16 rolls or flatbreads or 2 loaves of bread. A cup refers to a standard cup measurement of 225ml of water or 165g flour.

750g/4.5 cups strong white flour (more for dusting)
250g/1.5 cups strong wholemeal flour
650ml/ 3 cups warm water (you can use a little less if you are cautious about sticky dough, but aim for this % water) 10g/2tsp dried yeast
10g/2tsp salt

  1. Put the flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl and pour in the water. Using a wooden spoon mix these ingredients to form sticky dough. Allow this to sit for five – ten minutes before stage 2.
  2. Dust a clean, dry surface with flour and vigorously knead the dough for 5 – 10 minutes. Add more flour only if the dough is unworkably sticky, and even then only add a light dusting. You are aiming to have soft and elastic dough with the texture of an ear lobe.
  3. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a tea towel, and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size: 45 – 90 minutes. Knock the dough back, lightly knead and then use as needed

Bread: Oil 2 x 2lb bread tins. Divide dough in half, and flatten each into a disk and roll and fold it up like a thick Swiss roll. Place these seal side down, flatten the ends and tuck them under the rolls. Place these deftly into the tins and allow them to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes or a little longer for lighter bread. The dough should rise to the top of the tin or even a little above. Dust the top with flour and cut 3 light slashes diagonally across the loaf. Place this straight away into in a pre-heated oven (220c/400f) Bake at this temperature for 5 min then lower to 180c/360fc and bake for a further 25-30 minutes. Cool before slicing

Rolls: Roll out the dough to a sausage shape and cut into 16 equal portions. To make round rolls, take a portion of dough and using a circular motion with the palm of your hand, gently roll the dough on a floured surface while drawing your fingers upwards to create a ball shape. The ball shape can also be created by rolling the dough between the palms of both hands using the same circular motion. Place each ball on a large oiled tray allowing enough space between them for the rolls to double in size. Dust with flour or brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. Allow these to rise in a warm place for 20 minutes or a little longer for lighter rolls and bake in a pre-heated oven (220c/400f) for 5 minutes and then reduce the heat to 180c/360f. Bake for a further 10 minutes and allow the rolls to cool slightly on a rack before cutting.

Flatbreads: Roll out the dough to a sausage shape and cut into 8 or 16 equal portions. Roll these in to balls and set them aside for a short while to allow the gluten to relax. Heat a heavy bottomed pan or skillet. Roll out the dough to form thin disks of 30cm or 15cm diameter. Slap the breads onto the pan and cook for 30 seconds. Turn the bread over and use a folded tea towel to press the bread lightly onto the pan. This helps it to cook. The bread will begin to inflate with pockets of air. Press these pockets down and keep moving the bread. After a short time, (1 min), turn the bread again and cook for a further 30 seconds. Place the cooked breads between a clean cloth and keep warm.

Pizza: To make 4 large pizza’s, divide the dough in quarters, form each into a ball and rest for 5 minutes then roll out to fit the baking trays you are using. Finnish off with a topping of your choice and bake for 8- 10 minutes @ 220c/425f.

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