Updated: May 10, 2020
If you're new to bread making then this is an easy recipe to have a go at.
it makes about 8 deliciously moreish plaits perfect to dunk in a bowl of soup or stuffed with your favourite filling! The challenge is to see if you can resist eating them all before they fully cool!
*some handy tips...
always add the salt and yeast to opposite sides of the mixing bowl, salt and yeast don't get on at first!
a wetter dough produces better bread. (not soggy though)
kneading the dough well strengthens the gluten strands in the flour producing a good structure to your bread, I find 10 minutes is sufficient. think of it as a weekly workout to eliminate those bingo wings!
Always knead on an oiled work surface rather than flour. Flour dries your dough and alters the ratios in the recipe.
Don't worry too much about finding a super warm spot to prove your bread.
A slow prove makes a better loaf. A kitchen worktop with a tea towel over the bowl is perfectly ok, you don't need to juggle your sheets in the airing cupboard!
Using a stand mixer with a dough hook is absolutely fine if you suffer from aches and pains. in fact if you're making a wet dough like a brioche its a life saver!
Adding a litre of water to a baking tray in the bottom of the oven creates a lovely steamy environment for your bread to rise up, it prevents a crust forming too soon to inhibit the rise.
Adding an egg or milk wash to the top of your loaf gives a soft chewy crust, where as adding flour or water produces a crunchy crust.
When you knock back your dough give it a few folds in on itself, this strengthens the structure of the bread and produces lots of even sized holes rather than irregular holes that might make your bread tear when you butter it.
Dont skimp on the salt, if the recipe says 7g use 7g! an unsalted loaf is not a thing of beauty.. believe me i have tried!
Get creative with your shapes, just remember they will rise up again so try not to add fine detail it could get lost or distorted.
I've just done a basic wholemeal/white mix with the addition of seeds here, but feel free to experiment with additions of cheeses, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, bacon, ham.... anything really as long as it's not too wet.
Makes 8 plaits.
250g strong white flour
250g strong wholemeal flour
25g mixed seeds
8g fast action yeast
7g fine table salt
265ml lukewarm water (37c or less)
25g softened butter
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1. Measure out the flour and seeds in 1 bowl.
2. Add the salt and yeast to opposite sides of the bowl with the flour
3. Add softened butter
4. Add the water, picking up all the flour as you go using a clawing action.
5. Remove your rough dough ball from the bowl and set on a lightly oiled worktop.
6. Knead well on a lightly oiled worktop for at least 10 minutes by hand. (don’t worry if it is sticky), I promise it will get less sticky and smooth.
7. Place your smooth kneaded ball of dough in a large oiled bowl and cover with some cling film or a clean tea towel to prove (rise) for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
8. Remove cling film and punch the air out, set on a worktop and flatten out remaining air, the fold the dough in on itself 4 or 5 times. This gives the bread a good structure with even air bubbles.
9. Lay the dough out into a sausage shape and cut into 8 equal sized balls.
10. Elongate each ball into a sausage shape and make 2 incisions down the length creating 3 ‘legs’ in each.
11. Alternately fold each leg over the centre one creating a plaited strand. Tucking the ends under to make them evenly sized and neat.
12. Divide plaits between 2 baking trays lined with parchment paper with plenty of room around each one to rise again.
13. Put the whole baking trays into 2 big bags (I use a clean bin bags) and prop up the tops with bottles, this stops the bags sticking to the dough.
14. Preheat the oven to 220c
15. Let the rolls prove (rise) for another 45mins or doubled again in size.
16. Very carefully brush or lightly spray the tops of the rolls with lukewarm water and sprinkle on poppy seeds.
17. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 mins.
18. They should have risen more, be golden brown and sound hollow on the bottom when tapped.
19. Place rolls to cool on a wire rack then split and enjoy stuffed with your favourite fillings!