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Author Notes: If you’re not already an avid baker, you might want to start with a simple loaf—one that requires little kneading and no yeast. My favorite is "damper." I used to eat damper as a child, on summer holiday in Australia. It’s a campsite bread, the idea being that you can make it with basic ingredients and in one bowl, then wrap the dough in aluminum foil and cook it slowly among the embers of the campfire. I’ve found this translates quite nicely to the kitchen: no floury surfaces and very little mess to clean up, which is all very handy when you’re expecting company. It's so quick and simple to make that it fits in very nicely with the business of day to day life. —Skye | From My Dining Table
- 450 grams self-rising flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 30 grams butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar
- 350 milliliters water
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon Maldon salt flakes (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C). Grease and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Combine the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and rub in the butter.
- Once you have obtained a mixture with a crumb-like consistency, mix in the sugar and create a well in the center of the bowl.
- Pour the water in and use your hands to mix a soft dough.
- Use your hands to knead for 3 to 5 minutes in the mixing bowl, until the dough becomes smooth. Then roll the dough into a large ball and lay it on the baking tray.
- Trace a cross on the top of the dough with a sharp knife. Lightly beat the egg yolk and the milk together in a small bowl, and use a pastry brush to glaze the top of the loaf. Sprinkle with the Maldon salt flakes, if you like (I find that this gives a little added flavor and texture to the bread).
- Cover the loaf loosely with tin foil and bake in the oven for roughly 45 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and place the loaf back in the oven so that the top becomes golden and crusty.
- Let rest for a few minutes before lifting the loaf off the baking tray and setting on to a bread board. Serve straight away while still piping hot from the oven.