Mixing and shaping a simple round loaf is one of the most satisfying kitchen activities and the results is incomparably excellent. This bread is made with fresh yeast-it’s similar color and texture to putty and should crumble easily when broken. For best results, buy fresh yeast in small quantities as required: it will keep for up to one year don’t in the refrigerator.
450g/1 lb/4 cups strong bread flour/granary (multigrain) or malthouse flour/(gluten-free) optional
12.5ml/2 ½ tsp salt
15 g/1/2 oz fresh yeast
Oats for sprinkling
1.Lightly flour a baking sheet. Mix the flour and 10ml/2 tsp of salt together in a large bowel and make a well in the centre. Place in a very low oven for 5 minutes to warm.
2.Measure 300ml/1/2 pint/1 ¼ cups lukewarm water. Mix the yeast with little of the water, then blend in the rest. Pour the yeast mixture into the centre of the flour and mix to a dough.
3.Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled clear film (plastic wrap) and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 ¼ hours, or until doubled in bulk.
4.Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knock back (punch down).Knead for 2-3 minutes, then roll into a ball. Place in the centre of the prepared baking sheet. Cover with an inverted bowl and leave to rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.
5.Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/Gas 8 towards the end of the rising time. Mix 30ml 2tbsp water with the remaining salt and brush evenly over the bread. Sprinkle the loaf with oat or cracked wheat.
6.Bake the bread for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 and bake for a further 20 minutes, or until the loaf is firm to the touch and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack.