HEARTH BLEND RECIPE
Simple Homemade Hearth Loaf
This is my simplest “123 recipe” which works really well for those who have little or no home bread making experience. If you already have some experience baking bread making and want to use a more challenging recipe/method then look at the recipe for Wholesome Brown.
300g Hearth Blend white flour
180-200ml Luke warm water
5-6 g salt
4g/half sachet dried yeast
100g of your sour dough starter
Place ALL ingredients in mixing bowl, stir together with wooden spoon until fully combined. This should take 3-5 minutes, the dough will be sticky. Then continue to stir the dough for another couple of minutes with the spoon, you do not have to get your hands covered in sticky dough. Place the bowl on top of a metal saucepan half full with hot (not boiling) water. Cover the bowl with a plate, leave for 3-5 minutes. The dough bowl should ideally not be touching the hot water.
Remove bowl of dough from the saucepan and stir the dough with the wooden spoon for 1 minute. Pro tip: Leave the wooden spoon in a measuring jug of water.
Replace bowl on top of sauce pan, cover and leave for 3-5 minutes. If you kitchen is very cold and the water and dough go cold, then simply replace the water or put the saucepan on the stove and heat it up a little.
Then repeat the stirring with the spoon a couple more times until the dough no longer feels sticky. You can touch, knead or fold the dough in the bowl with one hand dipped in a saucepan of warm water, this stops you from having to constantly having to wash dough off your fingers.
Pro tip: It is always better to have a dough that is a bit softer (more water) than you would expect, rather than too firm or dry (less water) as it is much easier to add a little flour than add a little water.
Cover with the plate and leave on top of the saucepan of warm water to rest for 20-40 minutes. The dough should feel warm, not cold, on your elbow. There is no correct temperature, but it should be in the region of 24c to 29c. Pro Tip: A digital temperature probe is a cheap but invaluable addition to your baking equipment.
When dough has risen a little (it should NOT double in size) remove from the bowl and place on lightly floured worktop.
Gently shape the dough into a ball using the flour on the worktop to stop it sticking to your hands.
Cover the dough ball with the bowl it was previously in and leave to rest for 10-30 minutes. Pro Tip: This intermediate prove or bench rest really helps with the final shaping.
Then shape as desired (round or sausage shaped) and place in your chosen baking container.
At this stage you could decide to put the container of dough in your fridge and leave it overnight for for 6-12 hours. This “retarding” or chilling of the dough stiffens up the dough, slows the proving and increases the flavour of the bread.
Or you could decide to keep the dough warm and prove it for approximately 45-120 minutes depending on the room and dough temperature. Do not try to warm up the dough, keep it at the same temperature and out of any drafts. If the dough is in a tin or bowl place it in a plastic bag. Check every 20 minutes by gently pushing your floury little finger into the dough, your finger should NOT leave a hollow in the dough. If you are unsure it is better to be cautious and place the dough in the oven sooner rather than leave proving for longer. As you gain more experience you will be much better at judging the proving time. But always remember that the dough and room temperature are critical.
Place the container or the dough into the middle of a pre heated very hot oven. Reduce temperature to 220c and leave for 28-38 minutes.
To check if done, hold loaf with clean tea towel and tap the bottom – it must sound hollow, like a drum.
Leave to cool, then share.