The First Bake: Two White Loaves

Watching the Great British Bake Off last week left me terrified. Has every loaf I’ve baked in the past been a failure? How can I tell the perfect crumb? Did I over or under-prove? So I thought I’d start from scratch…

NVQ Level 1 in cookery (or catering, or similar) starts with the Basic White Loaf. I note that the Level 2 book doesn’t even include a recipe for white bread, assuming any self respecting student, cook, or caterer, by that point will have perfected the recipe and filed it in memory. So I started with memorizing and then making White Bread. Twice.

Critically examining the first loaf, I found – according to Leith’s -Oven Spring. Perhaps. To be honest I’ve no idea. Some blogs, books or websites think it’s a good thing and part of the baking process. Others a fault. What can certainly be criticised, were you of that mindset, is that the spring is asymmetric. So I started on loaf number two. Which ended up exactly the same. Hmm.

Any thoughts or advice? How is the crumb? Is the crust right? Is there a problem with oven spring? Ideas welcomed!

Recipe 1: No gluten window. Was scared it was over kneaded, if anything, so stopped. Risen at c 30 degrees rather than the recommended 22. Proven for 40 minutes rather than the recommended 20. Cuts made before going into the oven rather than 10 mins before. Ooh, and I lined the tin with baking paper.

Recipe 2: All of the above done correctly, though cuts at the start of proving instead of 10 mins in. No baking paper.

Loaf 1 is on the Left

Loaf 2 is on the left

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