This lockdown loaf is a very easy loaf of bread to make – and uses just four ingredients! You just need to be able to get hold of strong white flour … which is not always easy right now!
An Italian dream
My last blog post was about my wonderful holiday in Tuscany last summer. As I write this, under lockdown due to Covid-19, I wonder when we will be able to go on holiday again. Of course, going on holiday is just one of many things that isn’t happening at the moment: tomorrow my eighth week of working remotely from home will begin; Ioan’s seventh week at home from nursery, and the seventh week since my mum last came over to look after him (and us!).
If you don’t want to read my story around this recipe: Jump to Recipe
Missing my family
I hesitate to moan too much about my personal experience of lockdown, because in the scheme of things I am fortunate. Whilst we are deprived of seeing and hugging much-loved and missed family members, have had to cancel holidays, and are desperately trying to balance remote working with the demands of a pre-schooler; we – and our families and friends – are all healthy, plus we still have jobs, we have food and drink (possibly consuming a bit more of it than is advisable), and we have a garden.
Socially distanced visits
But one of the (many) internet memes which did resonate with me had the quote on it that “We are not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm”, and so I am allowed to moan. THIS IS HARD. HARD. Hard. What was normal before will certainly never be normal again, but I really hope that we soon see lockdown lift, so that I (and Ioan) can see my mum and brother in real life instead of over a WhatsApp video call (although my brother, who is one of the many key workers keeping London running by managing a tube station, did visit us last week in a socially distanced way, and that was amazing … even though he had to stand at the front door while we stood in the hallway).
Thank f*** for Ocado
Anyway, back to my lockdown loaf. I am fortunate enough to have maintained my Ocado deliveries during the lockdown, so I receive a delivery of groceries every week, which means we only have to leave the house to let Ioan run off some steam in the fresh air … even our garden gets too small for a 3.5 year old bundle of energy. But a loaf of bread does not last us more than a couple of days (Andrew and Ioan are both bread-fiends and can eat a few slices at every sitting), and so I have been making a couple of loaves of my own bread every week.
The delights of homemade bread
Homemade bread is easy to make (especially if you have a mixer with a dough hook like I do), it makes your house smell amazing as it bakes, and it tastes incredible (especially when it’s warm out of the oven). I have also started making my own sourdough bread (well, of course … it’s the fashionable thing for any self-respecting foodie to do whilst in lockdown), but that’s not exactly a speedy loaf, whereas this lockdown loaf can go from your head to on your plate in three hours. Okay, that’s not as fast as nipping to the Tesco metro around the corner and picking up a loaf of Warburtons, but I don’t want to do that right now – in my area of London people aren’t being especially observant of social distancing so it’s no fun going shopping – so this works for me.
So here is my recipe for the lockdown loaf, and my step by step guide to a sourdough loaf will be up on the blog soon.
The lockdown loaf
- 1kg / 2lb loaf tin
- 500 g strong white bread flour
- 7 g fast action yeast
- 350 ml warm water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Mix all of your ingredients together until a soft but not sticky dough is formed. You might not need all of the water, so start with 300ml water first of all and slowly add the rest of the dough is too dry.
- Knead for 10 minutes using the dough hook attachment of your mixer, or by hand on a clean and floured work surface. Although I use my food mixer to knead my dough, I do sometimes give Ioan a bit of it to 'knead' by hand and then surreptitiously put it in the bin when he is not looking ... he feels he has made the bread then.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and lightly oil the bowl. Then put the dough back in that same bowl and cover with clingfilm and allow it to rise until doubled in size (this takes around 1 hour, but I have forgotten about it before and it hasn't caused any harm).
- Punch the dough down to deflate it (Ioan loves to do this bit) and then put it into a 1kg / 2lb loaf tin (I use a silicone 'tin' so I don't grease it, but you may want to lightly grease your tin if you aren't confident of how non-stick it is!), cover with the clingfilm and allow to rise for around 30 minutes (again, I have forgotten about this before and have left it until the dough is escaping out of the top of the tin, but apart from a freaky shaped loaf, this hasn't caused me any problems).
- Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees fan / 200 degrees non-fan / gas mark 6, around 10 minutes before you plan to bake the loaf.
- Put the tin of dough in the oven and bake for around 45 minutes - you can tell the loaf is fully baked by taking it out of the oven and tipping the loaf onto a wire rack and tapping the base of the bread with a wooden spoon. If it sounds hollow (like it does if you tap the top of the loaf) then it is baked through, and you can leave it to cool on a wire rack ... or alternatively slice and butter it while still hot because why not? Hot buttered bread straight out of the oven (especially the end crust) is possibly the most delicious thing in the whole wide world!
Enjoy!The tastiest, easiest white loaf - perfect to make whilst in lockdown! Click To Tweet
This flour should keep me going
Oh, and a quick note about ingredients: I always have bread flour and yeast in my cupboard so had a couple of weeks during lockdown of using up my supplies. Then when I ran out, and couldn’t buy any strong flour from Ocado, I bought a 16kg bag online!
My mum kindly searched her local shops for yeast and bought me a plentiful supply of that, so I am good for bread making for the foreseeable future!