If you love the smell of homemade bread, this traditional white bread loaf from Le Creuset will have you in the kitchen baking up classic crunchy loafs to impress the family in this colder weather.
Preparation time: 30 minutes + 1½ – 2 hours rising time
Cooking time: 45 – 50 minutes
- 2 teaspoons runny honey
- 300ml (½pint) hand-hot water
- 2 teaspoons active dried yeast
- 200ml (7floz) full cream milk, warmed + extra if required
- 2 tablespoons olive oil + extra to grease the casserole
- 750g (1lb10oz) strong white bread flour + extra for kneading & dusting the casserole
- 1 tablespoon blue poppy seeds
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- Approx. 1 tablespoon cold water
- 1 tablespoon blue poppy seeds
- Cling film
- Baking tray + 500ml /18floz water
- Grease the casserole with a little oil and lightly dust with some of the extra flour.
- Dissolve the honey in the warm water, whisk in the dried yeast with a fork and leave for 5 minutes until frothy.
- Sift the flour into a large warm bowl, and then stir in the salt and poppy seeds. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeasty mixture, warm milk and olive oil.
- Work the mixture together using a large spatula or your hands until it leaves the sides of the bowl and forms a dough. The dough should be slightly wet, but not sticky– if it seems a little dry add a little more milk.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead for 5 – 6 minutes until it has become smooth and elastic. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with some oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This will take around 45 – 60 minutes.
- Turn the risen dough out onto a freshly floured work surface and knock out the air created during the first rising by kneading 3 – 4 times. Shape the dough into a rectangle 20x30cm (8x12inch) and roll it up tightly from the long side into a baton shape.
- Transfer the shaped dough seam side down into the casserole, cover loosely with oiled cling film and return to a warm place to rise until doubled in size. This will take around 45 – 60 minutes. 15 minutes before the end of the rising process preheat the oven to 220°C/ 425°F/ Fan 200°C/ Gas Mark 7.
- Place a baking tray filled with 500ml water in the base of the oven to provide a steamy baking environment which will create an extra crisp crust.
- Remove the cling film and lightly mist the top of the dough with some water and sprinkle over the poppy seeds. Then make four diagonal slashes, 2.5cm (1inch) apart, into the surface of the dough using a sharp knife.
- Place the casserole in the centre of the preheated oven and cook for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 190°C/ 375°F/ Gas Mark 5 and continue to cook for a further 35 – 40 minutes until the loaf is golden brown. Turn the loaf out of the casserole and cool on a wire rack.
The rising time will depend on the temperature of the rising place. If it is particularly cold it may take considerably longer than suggested.
For easy removal of the loaf run a small nylon palette knife around the edges of the casserole to loosen it before turning out.
To check the loaf is cooked knock the base with your knuckles, it should sound hollow. If it is not done return it to the casserole and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes.