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    Sally Clarke's Country Bread

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    Sally Clarke's Country Bread

    You can use this dough to make rolls and breadsticks. If you want a brown loaf, try using one-third each of granary, wholemeal and white flour. You'll also need to add more water.

    • Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus rising time
    • Cooking time: 25 minutes, plus cooling
    • Total time: 1 hour 55 minutes 60 minutes 55 minutes

    Makes: Makes 2 small loaves


    • 15g fresh yeast or 7g (2 level tsp) dried yeast
    • 500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
    • 15g salt
    • Semolina or medium-ground polenta for dusting


    1. In a small bowl, mix the yeast with 150ml warm water and set aside until it begins to froth. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl, or the bowl of a mixer.
    2. Mix the yeast liquid into the flour to form a soft dough, adding roughly another 150ml warm water as needed. You can do this in a mixer, using a dough hook on a slow speed, or in a bowl, with a spoon. If the dough is in a mixer, continue to mix on a slow speed for 5-7 minutes or until the dough is smooth and shiny. Alternatively, knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes until smooth. It should be very soft and pliable, but not sticky. The dough must be thoroughly stretched, to develop the gluten that will allow the bread to rise and hold its shape.
    3. Put the dough in a clean bowl, cover with lightly oiled clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. This should take about an hour, but the time can vary.
    4. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4 and sprinkle a good, heavy baking sheet, pizza stone or large terracotta tile with a little semolina or cornmeal. Don't use a thin, tinny baking sheet. A terracotta tile is ideal because it transmits heat slowly to the bread, which stops the base burning.
    5. Knead the dough gently to expel the gases. Shape into two balls, put on the baking sheet or tile, cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place until increased in size by half again.
    6. Remove the clingfilm, sprinkle the dough with flour through a sieve and snip the tops in a decorative fashion with sharp scissors. Put in the centre of the oven. Increase the heat immediately to 200°C /gas 6. Bake for 25 minutes or until the crust is crisp and the base sounds hollow when tapped. Cool and eat within 2 days.

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