675g strong white unbleached white flour, plus extra for dusting
14g easy blend dried yeast (2x7g sachets)
600ml hand-hot water
olive oil, for greasing
1 egg white
butter (to serve)
If you have a friendly baker and can get hold of fresh yeast, simply replace the dried sachets with 25g/1oz. Place in a small bowl with two tablespoons of warm water (105-115F) and then stir with a fork until dissolved. Leave to stand for about 3 minutes before using.
Place the flour in the bowl. Add the yeast, hand-hot water and salt. To do this by hand - mix with your fingers for 2-3 minutes, then knead to incorporate the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl and folding the dough over itself until it gathers into a rough mass.
Turn the dough out on to a well floured surface; lightly flour your hands. Knead for 6-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable. The dough will be very sticky at first; keep your hands and the work surface lightly floured, using a dough scraper if necessary to prevent it from sticking and building up on the work surface. As you continue kneading, the dough will become more elastic and easier to handle.
Shape into a loose ball, then return it to a clean bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.
Turn the dough out again on to a well floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes or until it becomes springy and very smooth. Shape into a loose ball and place it in a lightly oiled large bowl. Turn to coat the dough with the oil and cover tightly with cling film.
Leave to rise at room temperature (75-77F) for 1 hour, or until it looks slightly puffy but has not doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a 7.5cm/3" round roll. Brush with egg white and bake for 20 minutes until the loaves are a deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool before using.
To serve, cut the bread into slices and arrange in a bread basket with a separate pot of butter to serve.
The following are different ways in which to present the bread:
Crostini: Don’t be tempted to make these too far in advance, as the bread goes soggy. Preheat the grill or a griddle pan and use to toast slices of Caramelised onion Dunbrody bread, preferably one day old, on both sides. Remove from the heat and immediately rub one side with a halved garlic clove. Drizzle over a little olive oil to finish.
Bread Rolls: Divide the dough into 8-10 pieces. Place on a very lightly floured surface and roll each into a ball or small oval shape. Arrange on a non-stick baking sheet and spoon a teaspoon of the onion marmalade on top of each one, then brush with egg white. Bake these at 220°C (425°F/Gas 7) for about 20 minutes.
Croissant shaped rolls: Gently roll out the dough to a 1cm/0.5" thick on a very lightly floured surface and cut into small triangles. Brush with beaten egg white and starting at the base of each triangle roll towards the tip. Shape into half moons and arrange on a non-stick baking sheet with the tips tucked underneath. Bake these at 220°C/425°F/Gas 7 for about 20 minutes.
Breadsticks: Roll out the dough on a very lightly floured surface into a rectangle that is about 1cm/0.5" thick. Brush lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with chopped rosemary or a mixture of freshly chopped herbs is liked and then sprinkle with Maldon sea salt. Cut into 1 cm/0.5" strips and place on to a non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on their size until crisp and golden brown.
Batons: Divide the dough in half and shape each piece into a long roll with tapering ends, about 35cm/14" long. Transfer to a non-stick large baking sheet and bake these at 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 for about 30 minutes.
Glazing: For a pale, shiny glaze, brush with egg white as described in the recipe. While beaten egg gives a deep, golden shiny finish. Brushing with water gives a crisp crust and milk produces a soft, golden crust. Whole grains, seeds, Maldon sea salt or freshly grated Parmesan can be sprinkled over the dough before baking.