I have just made the best investment of my life so far and it comes in the form of a KitchenAid Artisan Mixer. I have been using a KitchenAid at home for many years using it for cakes, breads, biscuits, pasta. Not only is it an amazing kitchen device but it is very aesthetically pleasing, the almond cream mixer sits beautifully against the marble worktop.

I have never managed to master the art of bread making, instead of a smooth light dough I always end up with a heavy dry dough. The final result is not nearly as appealing as a loaf picked up from the local deli. I always seem to have difficulty with the kneading process, no matter how many Richard Bertinet and Paul Hollywood tutorials I watch and follow I still get left with a heavy loaf. The KitchenAid comes with a dough hook attachment, this means all the hard work of kneading and rotating is taken away. This results in a smooth elastic dough and therefore a well risen light loaf. The trick to a crunchy crust is filling a baking tin with water and placing it at the bottom of the oven whilst the bread is baking. The water turns to steam which then turns into the perfect crust. Until now baking an Artisan style loaf appeared unachievable however, the loaf that is sat in front of me now is golden brown with a crunchy crust with a light soft centre – everything that is needed for the perfect loaf.

On a hot day like today, when all you want are glasses of ice cold water, the smell of warm bread baking in the oven is just as enjoyable as it is on a bitter winter’s day.

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The Recipe

500g strong white bread flour plus a little extra
40g soft butter
12g dried yeast
2 tsp. salt
300ml tepid water (not too cold and not too hot!)
A little oil

– In a bowl place the flour and soft butter. Add the dried yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the opposite side.
– Add the tepid water a little at a time and mix together to form a soft dough.
– If making by hand, put a little oil onto the work surface and coat the dough in oil. Knead for 5 minutes.
– If making in the machine, use the dough attachment and let the beater knead the dough for around 3-4 mins.
– Once kneaded, place in a clean bowl and cover with lightly oiled cling film in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size.
– Once doubled in size, remove form the bowl and knock back with your hands. Form into a round shape.
– Line a baking tray with baking paper.
– Place the dough on the baking tray and cover again with lightly oiled cling film.
– Leave in a warm place for another hour.
– Pre heat the oven to 220 degrees celsius.
– Place another baking tray at the bottom of the oven.
– When the dough is ready, remove the cling film.
– Sprinkle the extra flour on top and gently rub in. Using a sharp knife make a pattern on top of the dough.
– Place in the oven.
– Before shutting the oven door, fill the baking tray at the bottom with water.
– Bake for 30 minutes until it is golden brown and the bottom of the bread sounds hollow.