Orange and Raisin Loaf

A very light cake where the orange flavour really comes through.

Orange and Raisin Loaf

  • Preparation time: 25 minutes
  • Cooking time: 55 minutes
  • Ingredients
  • For the loaf
  • 170 g (6 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour, sifted (1⅓ cups)
  • 170 g (6 oz) caster/superfine sugar (¾ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • pinch of salt
  • 115 g (4 oz) butter, softened (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 2 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.)
  • 1 orange
  • 115 g (4 oz) raisins (¾ cup)
  • For the icing
  • 170 g (6 oz) icing sugar/powdered sugar (1½ cups)
  • 3 tbsp hot water

Equipment

  • You will also need a 23 x 13 cm (9 x 5 inch) loaf tin/pan, greased and lined.
  • Method
  • For the loaf
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4).
  • Beat together the butter, sugar, and the zest of the orange until soft and creamy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of the sifted flour and the juice of the orange. Beat well.
  • Now fold in the remaining flour and salt.
  • Carefully stir through the raisins until evenly distributed.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin/pan and level the surface.
  • Bake above the centre of the oven for 50–55 minutes until the surface springs back when lightly touched with the forefinger.
  • Leave to cool in the tin/pan for 10 minutes.
  • Then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • For the icing
  • Sift the icing/powdered sugar into a large bowl and then gradually add enough water until a coating consistency is reached.
  • Spread over the top of the loaf using a palette knife.
  • Leave to set.
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Bacon and Cheddar Loaves

Bacon and Cheddar Loaves

I’m indebted to Paul Hollywood, the English baker and celebrity chef, for this recipe. These bacon and cheddar loaves make a great lunch or snack and are enjoyed by all the family.

I have played about with his quantities of ingredients, though. The recipe in his book “How to Bake” recommends that 500g, or just over a pound, of flour will provide 4 servings. Perhaps he has a bigger appetite than I do, but that’s equivalent to a quarter of a large loaf in each serving. And I feel that the bacon and cheddar gets a bit lost in all the bread.

My adapted recipe below halves the quantity of bread and increases the proportion of bacon and cheese. Perhaps you’d like to try different amounts and let me know how you get on?

Baking bread is not difficult if you follow this 3-step process. Each step involves a ‘wait period’ during which you can get on with something else. For more information about the technique I use, here’s a link to my page on Breadmaking.

Bacon and Cheddar Loaves

4 servings
  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Waiting time: 30 minutes
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 200 g (7 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (1½ cups)
  • 50 g (1¾ oz) wholemeal/whole wheat flour (⅓ cups)
  • 5 g (1½ tsp) instant yeast
  • 5 g (1 tsp) salt
  • 15 g (½ oz) unsalted butter, softened (1 tbsp)
  • 165 ml (6 fl oz) water (1¾ cups less 1 tbsp)
  • For the filling
  • 6 rashers of smoked back bacon, rind removed
  • 100 g (3½ oz) grated Cheddar cheese (1 cup)


  • Method

  • Step 1
  • Pour the flours into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the water. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.

  • Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20–30 minutes.

  • In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the salt, yeast, and butter.

  • Step 2
  • At the end of the 20–30 minutes, melt the butter and add it with the salt and yeast to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well.

  • Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

  • Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.

  • Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.

  • Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.

  • The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  • Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  • While waiting, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, and add the bacon, cooking gently on both sides until just cooked. Set aside to cool and then chop into small squares.

  • Then prepare a couple of baking trays. Line them with baking parchment.

  • Step 3
  • Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. It should feel smooth. Add the bacon pieces and grated cheese to it, and knead until well mixed. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and roll each portion into a smooth oval, tapering the ends into points. Place 2 loaves on each tray, dust with flour and slash the tops along their lengths.

  • Cover with tea towels, or place each tray inside a clean plastic bag, and leave to prove for about an hour. You can tell when they're ready when they've doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  • Before the end of the hour, heat your oven to 220°C/425°F (gas mark 7).

  • Sprinkle with a little olive oil and bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Eat warm.



Tip

  • Many recipes recommend using warm water to make the yeast work more quickly. However, the flavour is improved if the process takes place more slowly. I use water at room temperature or even a little cooler.

Note

  • * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.
Print Recipe

Updated: March 10, 2017

Crusty French Bread

Crusty French Bread

This crusty French bread is light and airy, with a beautiful crisp crust.

Baking bread isn’t difficult if you break the process down into 3 steps. Each step involves a ‘wait period’ during which you can get on with something else. For more information about the technique I use, here’s a link to my page on Breadmaking.

Crusty French Bread

1 loaf
  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 5–10 minutes
  • Waiting time: 30 minutes
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 35–40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 520 g (1 lb 2 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (3⅔ cups)
  • 10 g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 10 g (1 tbsp) instant yeast
  • 345 ml (12 fl oz) water (1½ cups less 1 tbsp)
  • olive oil for oiling the bowl and tin


  • Method

  • Step 1
  • Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the water. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.

  • Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20–30 minutes.
  • In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the salt and yeast.

  • Step 2
  • At the end of the 20–30 minutes, add the salt and yeast to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well.

  • Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

  • Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.

  • Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.

  • Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.

  • The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  • Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  • While waiting, prepare a baking tray and line with baking parchment.

  • Step 3
  • Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. It should feel smooth. Then flatten it out into a rectangle, with a short side towards you. Lift the dough from the furthest edge and fold it down towards you about half way. Press the edge down with the heel of your hand. Turn the dough round and repeat. Then roll the dough up away from you making sure that the join ends up at the bottom.

  • Place the dough on the baking tray, shaping how you want the loaf to end up. Lightly dust with flour and cover with the tea towel or cling film and leave to prove for at least another hour. You can tell when it's ready when it's doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  • Before the end of the hour, preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F (gas mark 7).

  • Dust the top of the dough with flour and slash the top diagonally with a sharp knife. Add about 250 ml (½ pint) of boiling water to a roasting tray and place it on a rack at the bottom of the oven to create some steam (this makes the crust crispy). Then bake for 35–40 minutes or until nicely browned. Turn out the loaf and tap it on the bottom – it should sound hollow. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Tip

  • Many recipes recommend using warm water to make the yeast work more quickly. However, the flavour is improved if the process takes place more slowly. I use water at room temperature or even a little cooler.

Note

  • * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.
Print Recipe

Updated: March 10, 2017

Whole Wheat Bread

Whole Wheat Bread

Baking a wholemeal, or whole wheat, loaf is very similar to White Bread. It just needs a little more water, as wholemeal flour absorbs more liquid than white flour. You can use wholemeal flour alone, which I prefer, but you can add white flour which gives a slightly less dense texture (about 425g wholemeal/75g white).

Baking bread isn’t difficult if you break the process down into 3 steps. Each step involves a ‘wait period’ during which you can get on with something else. For more information about the technique I use, here’s a link to my page on Breadmaking.

Whole Wheat Bread

  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 5–10 minutes
  • Waiting time: 30 minutes
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 35–40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) wholemeal/whole wheat flour (3½ cups)
  • 10 g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 10 g (1 tbsp) instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp Demerara sugar
  • ½ × 500 mg tablet of vitamin C
  • 55 g (2 oz) unsalted butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 335 ml (12 fl oz) water (1¼ cups + 2½ tbsp)
  • olive oil for oiling the bowl and tin


  • Method

  • Step 1
  • Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the water. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.

  • Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20–30 minutes.

  • In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the salt, yeast, sugar, and butter. Grind up half a tablet of vitamin C, either with a mortar and pestle or between two teaspoons.

  • Step 2
  • At the end of the 20–30 minutes, melt the butter and add it with the salt, yeast, sugar and vitamin C to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well.

  • Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

  • Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.

  • Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.

  • Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.

  • The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  • Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  • Depending on the kind of loaf you want, prepare for the shaping while you wait. If you want a classic rectangular shape as shown in the photograph, prepare a loaf tin. (For this amount of dough, I use one which measures 23.5 × 13.3 × 7 cm /9¼ × 5¼ × 3 in. Lightly oil the whole of the inside to prevent the loaf sticking.) If making a natural-shaped loaf, say a cob or a boule, line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  • Step 3
  • Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. It should feel smooth. Then flatten it out into a rectangle, with a short side towards you. Lift the dough from the furthest edge and fold it down towards you about half way. Press the edge down with the heel of your hand. Turn the dough round and repeat. Then shape the dough.

  • For the classic shape
  • Flatten the dough into a rectangle, short side towards you, with the width about the length of the loaf tin. Roll the dough up away from you making sure that the join ends up at the bottom. Place the dough in the tin, moulding as necessary to make sure it's even along its length.

  • For a natural shape
  • Rotate the dough into a ball and shape appropriately. Place on the baking tray.

  • Cover with the tea towel or cling film and leave to prove for at least another hour. You can tell when it's ready when it's doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  • Before the end of the hour, preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F (gas 8).
  • Dust the top of the dough with flour and slash the top lengthways with a sharp knife. Add about 250 ml/½ pint of boiling water to a roasting tray and place it on a rack at the bottom of the oven to create some steam (this makes the crust crisper). Then bake for 20 minutes, turning the oven down to 200°C/400°F (gas 6) for a further 20 minutes, or until nicely browned. Turn out the loaf and tap it on the bottom – it should sound hollow. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Tip

  • Many recipes recommend using warm water to make the yeast work more quickly. However, the flavour is improved if the process takes place more slowly. I use water at room temperature or even a little cooler.

Note

  • * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.
Print Recipe

Updated: March 10, 2017

Simple White Bread

Simple White Bread

A basic white bread to start with, if you’re just getting into baking.

Bread isn’t difficult if you break the process down into 3 steps. Each step involves a ‘wait period’ during which you can get on with something else. For more information about the technique I use, here’s a link to my page on Breadmaking.

Simple White Bread

  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 5–10 minutes
  • Waiting time: 30 minutes
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 35–40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (3½ cups)
  • 10 g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 10 g (1 tbsp) instant yeast
  • 30 g (1 oz) unsalted butter (2 tbsp, or ¼ stick)
  • 325 ml (11 fl oz) water (1⅓ cups)
  • olive oil for oiling the bowl and tin


  • Method

  • Step 1
  • Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the water. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.

  • Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20–30 minutes.

  • In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the salt, yeast, and butter.

  • Step 2
  • At the end of the 20–30 minutes, melt the butter and add it with the salt and yeast to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well.

  • Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

  • Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.

  • Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.

  • Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.

  • The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  • Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  • Depending on the kind of loaf you want, prepare for the shaping while you wait. If you want a classic rectangular shape as shown in the photograph, prepare a loaf tin. (For this amount of dough, I use one which measures 23.5 × 13.3 × 7 cm /9¼ × 5¼ × 3 in. Lightly oil the whole of the inside to prevent the loaf sticking.) If making a natural-shaped loaf, say a cob or a boule, line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  • Step 3
  • Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. It should feel smooth. Then flatten it out into a rectangle, with a short side towards you. Lift the dough from the furthest edge and fold it down towards you about half way. Press the edge down with the heel of your hand. Turn the dough round and repeat. Then shape the dough.

  • For the classic shape
  • Flatten the dough into a rectangle, short side towards you, with the width about the length of the loaf tin. Roll the dough up away from you making sure that the join ends up at the bottom. Place the dough in the tin, moulding as necessary to make sure it's even along its length.

  • For a natural shape
  • Rotate the dough into a ball and shape appropriately. Place on the baking tray.

  • Cover with the tea towel or cling film and leave to prove for at least another hour. You can tell when it's ready when it's doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  • Before the end of the hour, preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F (gas mark 8).
  • Dust the top of the dough with flour and slash the top lengthways with a sharp knife. Add about 250ml/½ pint of boiling water to a roasting tray and place it on a rack at the bottom of the oven to create some steam (this makes the crust crisper). Then bake for 20 minutes, turning the oven down to 200°C/400°F (gas mark 6) for a further 20 minutes, or until nicely browned. Turn out the loaf and tap it on the bottom – it should sound hollow. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Tip

  • Many recipes recommend using warm water to make the yeast work more quickly. However, the flavour is improved if the process takes place more slowly. I use water at room temperature or even a little cooler.

Note

  • * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.
Print Recipe

Updated: March 10, 2017