Saturday, August 21, 2010

Something for the Upper Crust (pun intended) - Batch Bread

In my last post I talked about the 'peasant bread' called Crusty Cob. This was a 'bottom bread', baked on the bottom of the oven, a place reserved for the poorest of the poor. In Georgian England (most of the 18th century), the leading elements of society, the 'upper crust' so to speak, ate a sweet white bread. Sugar, produced in the colonies, was a luxury and reserved for the upper classes. In colonial times, in Nova Scotia, this bread would have been eaten in Halifax in the governor's mansion on Citadel Hill. In England, this bread would have been eaten by the nobles and royals. Today, we know to praise the added nutrition of a whole wheat bread but white bread was highly praised then, and usually reserved for the 'upper crust'. This bread is a little sweet and delicious. It is especially appropriate for breakfast or brunch, eaten with jam.

Here's what you'll need:
500g (1lb 2oz) bread flour
1 1/2 tsp (7g) salt
30g (1oz) yeast
60g (2 1/2oz) butter at room temperature
75g (3oz) powdered sugar
300ml (1/2 pint) water

Here's what you'll need to do:
1. Place all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix them together vigorously for a few minutes until they come together and form a shaggy dough, and the flour is fully hydrated.
2. Remove the dough from the bowl to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes. Afterwards, place the dough back in the bowl, cover, and let it rest for about an hour.
3. Punch down the dough and knead for a minute or two. Then, shape into a ball and place on parchment paper on a baking tray. Gently flatten the ball of dough until it is about 20cm (8in) in diameter. Let the dough rise, covered for about an hour, or until doubled in volume. This could be two hours also.
4. Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Bake the loaf for about 15 to 20 minutes then place on a wire rack to cool.
5. Delicious and soft, you will love this bread.

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