Loaf of bread on cooling rack with open cookbook behind

Cooking with… Nigella Lawson: The Essential White Loaf

I tried a recipe from Nigella Lawson’s 2000 book “How to be a domestic goddess” this week. I got the book on Thriftbooks.com which is one of my favorite places to shop for books. Most of my books came from there.

The fun thing about shopping there is that sometimes, books have hand-written notes in them. This one, for example, had the Metric conversion chart written in the beginning. I wasn’t sure why, until I started making this bread. Since I wasn’t familiar with Nigella Lawson, I didn’t realize she is from England. And even though I grew up using the Metric system, inches and ounces are now more near and dear to my heart.

I imagine someone must have bought this book in England and brought it home with them. Isn’t it interesting? Maybe it’s my immigrant nature that seeks roots, stories, and heirlooms. I love old things. Most of them have stories. And these stories make me feel connected to the past. Even if it’s not physically tangible, even if it’s not mine.

But, anyway, back to the present and the bread! As I was flipping through the pages of the book, I was so drawn to Nigella’s simple, enjoyable way of writing. She allows for a certain freedom in her recipes. I enjoy that a lot: most of my day to day cooking is improvised. I think about what we have, what we need, how I can combine it in the best way possible. And, if I am happy with the result, I immediately write down exactly what I did. After that, I test the recipe again and again until it is ready to be shared here, with you.

The Essential White Loaf

The essential white loaf (Nigella Lawson); slices and loaf

This is the perfect name for this bread. I have tried a lot of bread recipes over the years, and I knew I was lacking a go-to recipe. This is it. This is my go-to bread recipe now!

It was an absolute breeze to make and since it was a warm and humid day, the rising time was very short. I ended up rushing to put it in the oven because it was ready long before I was!

Now, the headnote talks about adding potato water into the dough, instead of regular hot water. I didn’t have any, and the potatoes I had I was keeping for oven fries the next day. So I used regular water. However, I will most definitely try it the next time I make it. Which will be soon! I told my husband that this is the perfect bread when you want to bless someone in a very traditional sort of way. When was the last time someone has shown up at your doorstep with freshly baked bread? Wouldn’t it be nice to bring back that kind of community? Maybe you are lucky to live in one like that already.

Anyways, the bread was beautiful AND delicious. It was even easier than the no-knead Dutch oven bread. Which I tried twice in the past, and both times it… Lacked flavor! Not even a whiff of that here. It has it all – the satisfying crunch, the beautiful, tight crumb texture, and best of all – the golden brown top dusted with flour, making it look fancy and taste rustic. The perfect combination!

The essential white loaf vertical, slices up close

Where to get the recipe

After this tremendous success, I went ahead and found Nigella’s website and signed up for updates. Unfortunately, this particular recipe isn’t available on the website, but it has a ton of other recipes.

If you’d like a book (and I think that you should, if you enjoy free-hand cooking), you can get a used copy (like mine!) here. I am sure it is also available on Amazon.

I enjoyed two slices of this bread with my coffee this morning. The sandwich I had a craving for turned out so good, I am putting it on the blog and SOON!

Smoked salmon, cucumber, dill cream cheese sandwich; blue and white plate
Please excuse the aggressive light in this photo: it was a gloomy and rainy day with very minimal daylight 🙂

This is it for today, for the inaugural post in the “Cooking With…” category! Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it! I would love to hear who do you love to cook with and who should I consider next?

Till next time!

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