The Sherston loaf

This recipe from Tom and Henry Herbert of Hobbs House Bakery is a loaf to make the best toast in the world! It has a lush flavour, which comes from the long, slow overnight fermentation. Thomas Herbert, the great-grandfather of Tom and Henry, was baking at a time when yeast was expensive, so he made dough with about a tenth of the quantity used in modern, mass-produced ‘bread’, and left it overnight to rise. Although overnight dough bread was born out of economic necessity, it has stood the test of time. In no small part, this is because it tastes so wonderful, it’s a great all-rounder with a soft close texture that makes it perfect for sandwiches, and toasted it’s brilliant. The tiny amount of yeast, which ensures a long slow rise, also makes this bread easier to digest for a lot of people, and it keeps fresh for longer than most other loaves.

Yields1 Serving
 560 g strong white flour 10 g sea salt flakes 10 g sugar 2 g dried yeast 100 ml milk (full-fat is best) 200 ml cool water 20g fat (butter/lard/white)
1

Mix all the ingredients together for 10 minutes in a mixer or 15 minutes by hand until you have a smooth stiff dough.

2

Cover and leave in a cool place to rest for 2 hours. Mould to fit a large tin and then, having placed it in the tin, cover and leave overnight to rise in the fridge.

3

In the morning (or after about 8 hours), the loaf will have risen slightly. Take it out of the fridge and put it somewhere warm to carry on rising: it could take from 1 to 3 hours. Heat the oven up to 240˚C (if it doesn’t go that high, then as hot as it’ll go).

4

Lightly dust the risen dough with flour and give it five slashes with a sharp knife. Steam the oven and bake the loaf in the tin directly on the baking stone. Remember to turn down the temperature after 10 minutes.

5

Once the loaf is baked a beautiful golden colour and rings hollow when tapped on the bottom (about 35 minutes), then take it out of the oven and cool on a wire rack.

CategoryCuisine

Ingredients

 560 g strong white flour 10 g sea salt flakes 10 g sugar 2 g dried yeast 100 ml milk (full-fat is best) 200 ml cool water 20g fat (butter/lard/white)

Directions

1

Mix all the ingredients together for 10 minutes in a mixer or 15 minutes by hand until you have a smooth stiff dough.

2

Cover and leave in a cool place to rest for 2 hours. Mould to fit a large tin and then, having placed it in the tin, cover and leave overnight to rise in the fridge.

3

In the morning (or after about 8 hours), the loaf will have risen slightly. Take it out of the fridge and put it somewhere warm to carry on rising: it could take from 1 to 3 hours. Heat the oven up to 240˚C (if it doesn’t go that high, then as hot as it’ll go).

4

Lightly dust the risen dough with flour and give it five slashes with a sharp knife. Steam the oven and bake the loaf in the tin directly on the baking stone. Remember to turn down the temperature after 10 minutes.

5

Once the loaf is baked a beautiful golden colour and rings hollow when tapped on the bottom (about 35 minutes), then take it out of the oven and cool on a wire rack.

The Sherston loaf