1. Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Put in the butter and rub it into the flour. Make a dip in the centre of the flour and pour in 450ml of warm water. Then mix, with a rounded-blade knife, gathering up any dry bits in the bottom of the bowl, until the mixture comes together as a soft, not too sticky, dough. Gather it into a ball with your hands.
  2. Put the dough onto a very lightly floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes until it feels smooth and elastic, only adding the minimum amount of extra flour if necessary to prevent the dough sticking.
  3. Place the ball of dough on a lightly floured work surface. Cover with an upturned, clean, large glass bowl and leave for 45mins – 1 hour or until it has doubled in size and feels light and springy. Timing will be dependent on the warmth of the room. 
  4. When the dough has doubled in size, turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knock back the dough gently. Knock back the dough by gently kneading just 3-4 times. You only want to ‘knock’ out any of the large air bubbles, too much handling will make the dough lose its lightness!
  5. Now it’s time to shape the loaf. You can shape it however you would like! Sit the shaped dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet and lightly dust the top with a little dusting of flour. Cover with a clean dry tea towel and leave for 40-45 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.
  6. Place a roasting tin in the bottom of the oven 20 minutes before you are ready to bake and heat the oven to 240C/ 220C fan/ Gas Mark 9. Put the risen bread in the oven, carefully pouring about 250ml of cold water in the roasting tin below (this will help to ensure a crisp crust!) then lower the heat to 220C/200 C/ Gas Mark 7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden.
  7. Remove and allow cool on a wire rack. If you tap underneath the loaf should be firm and sound hollow.

This bread is at it’s best fresh out of the oven smothered in Kerrygold Salted Butter but it will keep for up to 3 days. Store in an airtight container, in a cool dry place to ensure maximum freshness.

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