Strictly speaking this is not my first loaf. But it is my first truly edible one - and it even looks like a loaf.
The trick to a good loaf?
- In my limited experience it is kneading by hand for at least 10 mins until the dough stretches before breaking rather than just breaking.
- Shaping the loaf properly. For the bloomer style loaves I have been making I roughly flatten out the raised dough into a rectangle and roll it up tightly towards me. Pull and bounce the flattened roll to about twice it's length, then fold one end in on top of the other. Flatten out into a rectangle again, and roll towards you again.
- Pre-heat the baking tray to 230C in the oven with a deep sided baking tray underneath. I have tried higher temperatures as many books recommend but my bread browned too much for my liking.
- Transfer the risen loaf gently to the hot baking tray and slash with a very sharp knife or bread knife.
- Place in the oven and pour a glass of water in the bottom baking tray. Shut the door and do not open for at least 10 minutes. Then cook for another 30 minutes.
This all said, I put this in before the oven was up to heat, and took it out a bit early as it all ended up being done in a rush before school pick up! And it still worked.