Friday 1 January 2016

Plaited Sunflower Seed Loaf

One of the things I need to work on this year is my bread-making. I'm quite happy whipping up a loaf, but I tend to stick to, in 2016 I'm going to go beyond, and work on shaping loaves a lot more.

This was a basic bread recipe, to which I added a bit more oil than normal, and some sunflower seeds. it was mixed using a dough hook for about 8-10 minutes, then proved for a couple of hours (while I did a session on the Wattbike).

Once it had risen, I knocked the mixture back, split it into 3 and rolled then out to about 40-45cm in length. These were then shaped into a simple 3-weave plait, placed on a baking tray, and proved a second time for an hour (I use our utility room for proving in, as it's nice and warm).

Finally, I gave the loaf a quick milk wash, sprinkled some seeds on top, and baked it in an oven..I started at 220'C for 10 minutes, and also put a cup of water on the bottom of the oven to help a crust form, then turned it down to 200'C for another 15 minutes. End result is a nicely coloured loaf, and the plait has come out quite evenly (well, for me at least!).

Full Recipe

600g strong white bread flour
350ml luke-warm water
7g fast-action yeast
5g salt
40ml sunflower oil
30g sunflower seeds

To decorate - 20g sunflower seeds

Place all the ingredients in a mixer bowl, and mix with a dough hook for 8-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth. Check it's done by hand-kneading it, and it should stretch well without tearing. Place this in an oiled bowl, slightly covered with clingfilm, in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.

Knock the dough back, split into 3 parts (roughly 350g each), and roll these into even-thickness sausages about 45cm long each. Plait these into a single loaf, tucking the ends under the loaf to tidy things up. Place the loaf on a baking tray, and (if needed) loosen and even it up a bit at this point.

Prove it for another hour, then give it a milk wash, sprinkle the sunflower seeds over the top, and place in a pre-heated oven at 220'c. When you put it in the oven, pour a cup of water into a baking tray at the bottom of the oven (this gives stream, that gives you a better crust, and allows the loaf to expand more without splitting). After 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 200'c, and bake for another 15-16 minutes. Check it's cooked by turning it over and tapping the bottom (it should sound hollow)...if it's not, give it a couple more minutes, and repeat.

Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.