I've now had a go at the Hovis recipe on the back of the yeast packet and this turned out to be my best bread so far! Again it didn't appear to rise sufficiently before baking, but it was the lightest so far and was still soft (ish) today when I baked at the beginning of the week - usually my bread is like a rock on the second day.
I followed the recipe closely, even measuring out the yeast - I usually just dump a whole packet in, figuring that packets come in the right sizes. And what have I learnt...there's more than 1 1/2 tspns of yeast in a packet. Why?? Surely most people would be following a standard 2 lb loaf recipe, in which case why have more yeast than that in a packet and what do I do with the rest??? I think too much yeast could have been a cause of some of the problems I've been having with earlier loaves.
This recipe also uses only one rising (Delia had a rise and a prove) and came out fine, so again why would you go to the bother of having a second rising? Does it make for better bread in the end?
And finally it turned out that I was using 2 x 2lb tins when L had quite convinced me that they were only 1 lb tins. So in fact I've only effectively been using half the dough I should have been in each tin. That may solve the 'doesn't appear to rise above the top of the tin' problem. I was sure they were 2 lb tins...I must never let L convince me of anything again!
No pictures I'm afraid - too much eaten by the time I got my act together! Next time...
500g / 1lb 2oz strong white flour
25g / 1oz butter
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
300ml / 10 floz warm water
2tsp sugar (optional - to give added flavour and a thicker crust)
Mix together the flour, (sugar) and salt, rub in the butter then stir in the yeast.
Stir in the water and mix into a dough by hand.
Knead for 5 minutes in an electric mixer or turn out onto a floured surface and knead well for 10 minutes by hand
Shape the dough and place in a greased 2lb tin or on a baking tray. Cover with a clean damp tea towel and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (1 1/2 to 2 hours).
Uncover and bake in an oven preheated to 230C / 450F / Gas 8 for 30-35 minutes. The baked loaf should sound hollow when tapped underneath.
Turn out onto a wire rack to cool