Do you know why supermarket bread is generally rubbish? Because industrially produced loaf takes only about an hour to make. That’s right - from mixing yeast with water and flour to the baked (and sliced, probably) product in just about an hour. Where’s fermenting? Developing flavour? Proving and stretching and folding and the final rise? Gone – replaced by an accelerated chemical process and lots of additives.
I know, I know – some people do have a penchant for the gloopy, unnaturally white and perfectly square slices. But most of us, having tasted the proper stuff, Real Bread, will refuse to look at the old Hovis or supermarket’s own. And here’s the proof that it needn’t take all day to bake a decent loaf – and not a lot of skill.
Dan Lepard, my favourite bread guru, presents the recipe in his book ‘Short and Sweet – The Best of Home Baking’. There is quite a lot of yeast to speed up the rise and the tricks to make it taste like a longer-proving loaf are adding raw potatoes, vinegar and a bit of fat. I must say I went steady on the yeast (he calls for 5 teaspoons, ye Gods!), lengthened the proving process a bit (adding the first rise instead of forming and shaping straight off) but I still had a loaf ready in just over two hours from start to finish.
And it tastes perfectly decent, slightly sweetish from the potatoes. Beats supermarket ready sliced any time of day.