I have made this bread so many times and it really is easy. I found it in a book called “Bread, from sourdough to rye”. It is a very comprehensive book and well worth a look.
I have made it hand formed and also in square loaf pans. I find it works best with the square Pullman loaf pans, and I have also made it in the bread machine.
Just a couple of basic things to remember:
1) Make sure your yeast is fresh.
2) Make sure your water is not to hot, otherwise it will kill the yeast.
4 1/2 cups AP Flour
1 1/2 tsp of sea salt
1 3/4 cups tepid water
0.6 oz of cake compressed yeast or one package of active dry yeast
1 Turkey basting bag – Optional
Mix the flour, sea salt into a bowl. If it is cold, warm the flour in a microwave for 15 seconds.
If you are using compressed yeast, then crumble it into your tepid water, if you are using the packet of active dry yeast, then sprinkle that into the flour mixture, not in the water.
Now either pour the yeast and water mixture into the flour mixture and mix with your hands, or just add the 1 3/4 cups of tepid water if you are using the active yeast.
If you are using a bread machine, just follow the instructions, as you will now have put in the dry and wet ingredients and the machine should take over from here.
Work with your hands until the dough comes together. If it feels a bit tacky, then add a bit of extra flour, working one tablespoon at a time. Vice versa, if it is a bit crumbly add in additional tepid water one tablespoon at a time.
Knead the dough on a surface with a bit of flour to stop it from sticking, but not too much flour, for 10 minutes until it feels elastic and has a sheen.
Put the dough into a large bowl and cover with plastic cling wrap and put it in a warm place. It will take between 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours depending on the temperature in the room.
Once it has risen punch it down with your fist and then gently shape it into a circle and place on a greased loaf pan. Do not handle too much.
Slip the loaf pan into a large plastic bag and just seal it off. A turkey basting bag is ideal for this purpose, and they can be reused. Or if going to put into a square Pullman pan, just form it and then cover the Pullman pan with plastic cling wrap. After approx. 1 hour, the loaf should have doubled again.
Place it into a preheated 425 degree over and bake for 35 minutes until golden brown. Let it cool fully before slicing.