I used wholemeal flour for the 2nd stage of 175g flour. the bread tasted great with a thin crust and very soft and moist crumb. However, there were a few big bubbles inside. Perhaps I couldn't knock all the air out before shaping the loaf. Well, it's a learning curve. :)
For the sponge
- 200ml warm water (about 30-35C)
- 1 level tsp easy-blend yeast (it may also be called "fast-action dried yeast", "instant yeast")
- 175g strong white bread flour
For the dough
- 175g strong white bread flour (or other kind of flour e.g. wholemeal, rye etc.)
- 1 level tsp fine salt
- 10ml olive oil
- In a big mixing bowl add the warm water and stir in the yeast. Add the flour, stir it up well with a wooden spoon, cover the bowl and leave overnight.
- When you're ready to make your dough, put the second batch of flour (175g) into the yeast batter. Add salt and olive oil, then mix well.
- Lightly flour the work surface and knead the dough for 10 minutes, then cover and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in height (2-3 hours).
- When the dough is ready, knock it back (pushing it away from the sides with your knuckles) and tip it onto a work surface.
- Mould the dough into rugby ball shapes and place them on a baking tray. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to prove (30 mins - 1 hour). Dust the top of the loaf with a little more flour and slash the top with a sharp knife if you want.
- Heat oven to 220C/ fan 200C/ gas 7.
- Pour hot water onto the bottom of the oven or into a dish at the bottom of the oven to create steam.
- Bake the bread for 20 mins, then reduce the heat to 190C /fan 170C/gas 5 and continue to bake for 30 mins until the loaf sounds hollow when removed from the oven and tapped on the base. Leave the bread on a wire rack to cool completely