The secret’s out. It’s true. The Great British Bake Off is going to be back on our screens in less than two short weeks. Set your timers, mark your diaries, stock up on self raising. Tuesday 16th August, BBC2, 8pm. Simply everyone will be watching. Especially me.
To accompany the series there’s a book. You can buy it here for the bargain price of £10. (It’s usually £20 so I’d get ordering asap.) Now I know I may be biased but it’s really rather good. Packed to the brim with something for everyone from the classic Victoria sponge to the rarely made at home but oft bought Panettone.
I thought I’d put it through the Holly Bell Tough Test last night by baking the featured perfect white loaf. Did it pass? It smelt good, it felt good, it looked good and most importantly it tasted good when used to sandwich together grilled fish fingers. Can’t say fairer than that. Maybe wait to try the bread recipes until it’s a little cooler though. Gas mark 8 in August is a little much even for a cold blooded creature like me.
Now Mr Hollywood goes into a lot more detail than I’m about to. If you want the full four pages of instructions you’ll have to buy the book.
Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl, add the yeast, mix again and then make a well in the middle. Pour the water into the well and then use one hand to bring the dough together. When combined tip onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and silky.
Return the dough to the bowl and cover with clingfilm or a damp tea towel. Leave to rise until doubled in size – about 2 hours at room temp or overnight in the fridge. Once risen punch down the dough with your knuckles to deflate it. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 1 minute.
Divide the dough in half and then shape into balls. Dust with flour, cover again (tea towel or clingfilm) and leave to double in size again. Towards the end of the rising time preheat the oven to Gas 8.
Before the loaves go into the oven, dust with a little more flour and slash with a sharp knife. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to Gas 6 and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it. Cool on a wire rack. Tastes very good with fish fingers and Marmite, though not necessarily together.