Sunday 29 November 2009

Fresh from the oven - White tin loaf

Firstly, apologies for the lateness of this post, I've been rather disorganised recently and despite having a whole month to bake this, did it right at the last minute. No, I'll probably never learn! Hence the slightly dodgy photo too!

However, I really wanted to post this because I was very excited to find out what the baking challenge for this month's Fresh from the oven group was when it was revealed. Our host for this month is Linda from With knife and fork and she has chosen white tin loaf, a very British plain loaf, but no less delicious for that. However the thing that excited me most was the method she wanted us to use to make it. Regular readers of the blog will know that Dan Lepard is my favourite baker - his recipes for cakes and breads are innovative and inspiring and his bread kneading technique has certainly revolutionised my bread making. I had never really consistently had success with bread making until I tried his kneading technique, which is explained below (reproduced from the original at with knife and fork). Essentially you do very little kneading (which being lazy suits me well!) and you don't knead on a floured surface, but an oiled one. This is the key and while it might sound odd, please, please give it a try - it's the one thing that made dough, even relatively soft/wet dough manageable for me. (Although I'm not claiming to be an expert in bread dough by any stretch of the imagination, and doughs I feel are wet are probably childs play to a seasoned baker!)

I scaled the given recipe slightly as I have found in the past that 500g flour makes slightly too much dough for my 2lb loaf tin, so I scaled to 450g and altered the liquids accordingly. The other change I made was to bring my milk to the boil before using it. The reasons for this are explained in this recipe, published later than the one which inspired our recipe this month, I guess life is a learning process and since what Dan says makes good sense I decided to follow it. I therefore used cold tap water to cool the milk down, which worked well.

My altered quantities are:
180g semi-skimmed milk, scalded
135g cold water
1tsp dried yeast
150g plain flour
300g bread flour
1tsp salt

I baked the loaf at Gas 7 for 5 minutes, followed by 30 minutes at Gas 6, then 5-10 minutes upside down at Gas 6, worked out from experience of my oven! This dough wasn't as active as some I've worked with, but it was quite cool in my kitchen when I was making it, and it has given a beautifully shaped loaf (you're lucky you don't get to see some of my day-to-day thank-goodness-it's-only-me-eating-it type loaves!!!). It doesn't taste at all milky, but has a lovely crumb, quite close and eminently suitable for sandwiches. I'll continue to use a proportion of milk in my doughs if I have spare in the fridge because I was really pleased with this loaf.

Check out everyone else's loaves at the Fresh from the oven blog!

Dan Lepard
says he developed this when he was working full time in commercial kitchens (that made artisan hand kneaded bread) because there wasn’t time for full 10 minute knead of all the different bread batches so he switched to short kneads spaced out and found it works just as well, part of the development of a good gluten structure is dependent on the time elapsed not the vigorous kneading. I liked the idea because I’d not been getting good textures with either a machine or a normal hand knead. I am now a wholesale convert.

You must use oil not flour on the kneading surface and your hands. Something like vegetable oil is good.

The dough must be quite sticky and soft to start with. It will firm up when kneaded and as time progresses.

Once you have soft sticky dough leave it covered in the bowl for 10 minutes.

Now oil your kneading surface and hands and tip the dough out.

Knead for about 12 seconds by folding in the edges to the centre, a bit like shaping a round loaf, rotate the dough as you go.

Flip the dough over, leave it on the surface and cover with a cloth. Wash out the bowl and then oil it lightly. Put the dough back in the bowl and cover.

Leave for 10-15 minutes and then do another 12 second knead. You will notice the dough is already less sticky and firmer.

Leave for 20 -30 mins and repeat the fast knead. You are aiming to have kneaded the dough 3 times in the first hour.

Leave covered to rise until at least 50% larger but not more than double in size (kneading once per hour if it takes more than hour to increase in size).

Tip out onto the oil surface and press the air out of the dough using the tips of your fingers so its square-ish in shape. Repeat the fast knead process (or fold in to thirds then rotate through 90, flatten again and fold into 3rds again).

Shape the dough as required for the particular loaf you are making. Put it in a tin, or supported in a floured cloth in a bowl.

Leave to rise until at least 50% larger and preferably almost double in size.
Slash top and bake as per your recipe.

White Tin Loaf (based on Dan Lepard’s Quick White Loaf, p63 of the
Handmade Loaf

2lb loaf tin greased and floured or lined with baking parchment (no need to line the short ends just oil them).

Oven to be pre-heated to its maximum setting (R10/250C) and with a tray of water in the bottom to create steam.

200g semi skimmed milk at room temp (Dan uses whole milk but semi skimmed seems to work fine)
150g water at room temp (remember 1g = 1ml but its easier to be accurate weighing fluids)
1 tsp fast action yeast (or 2 tsp fresh yeast crumbled)
200g plain white flour
300g strong white bread flour
1 ½ tsp fine sea salt


Mix the flours and salt together in a bowl.

Mix the water and milk together in a separate bowl and whisk in the yeast.

Add the liquid to the flour and mix with the fingers of one hand to a soft sticky rough dough. You may need to add a little more liquid do this a teaspoon at a time until you have a soft sticky dough.

Follow the kneading instructions above.

The first rise will probably take about an hour from the last knead.

To shape for a tin loaf, flatten the dough to a square about the same width as your tin. Roll the dough into a cylinder and press the seam firmly, fold under the two short ends and place in the tin seam side down.

Allow to rise (covered) to 1 ½ to 2 times volume i.e. to the top of the tin.

Slash the top of the loaf along it length and put it straight into the oven for 10 minutes at maximum temperature. After 10 minutes check how it’s browning and drop the temperature as follows (these baking guidelines are from the River Cottage Bread Book):
R6/200C if the crust is pale
R4/180C if crust is noticeably browning
R3/170C if crust is browning quickly
And cook for a further 40-50 minutes.
I usually check again part way through this time and either adjust temperature again or cover the top with foil if it’s brown enough. Also note that with a traditional gas oven (i.e. one without a fan) the top may brown far too quickly on the side near the heat at the initial temperature so you might want to start at a lower setting of R8/9 for the first 10 minutes. Adapt the setting for what you know about your oven and how things usually bake.

When it’s cooked turn it out of the tin and allow to cool.

Then when it’s cooled cut a big huge doorstop of a slice, toast it and slather with lashing of butter. Yum.

The recipe also works well with a mix of 50:50 wholemeal and white bread flours. You’ll probably need 2-3 tbps extra water.

1 comment:

Katie said...

Wow that looks a fantastic loaf. Just perfect and I love the slashes across the top


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