Before I go to far into this recipe, I must thank my daughter in law to be for the wonderful photography. I am truly amazed by how yummy she has made bread and tomatoes look 🙂 Jasmine Poole you are a wonder 🙂 check out her wonderful website
I have been using this recipe for ages. My kids have referred to it over the years as Your Focaccia. I am pretty sure there was an actual recipe that I followed at some point but I honestly don’t know which one. I often make this when I know I have either the whole family home or friends coming over. It’s an easy to make bread (I think) that I happily serve with olives, antipasti and olive oil with a smidge of balsamic. It also magically turns into burger buns when cut into squares. The other week we had it with roast chicken that had been marinated in honey and turmeric 🙂 The only thing I would suggest is a must is a good solid food mixer. You can of course knead by hand but the mixture is pretty wet so the mixer makes light work of this hard sticky job.
500g strong white flour
325ml warm water
10g sea salt, crushed plus extra for sprinkling on top later
7g fast action yeast
a good drizzle or 4 of olive oil. I prefer the light one but your choice. Rapeseed oil is good here too although I am sure not correct for a focaccia.
dried herbs – rosemary is traditional but I often use whatever is to hand.
In your mixer bowl. Put in your water first and then your dry ingredients. Make sure your salt is away from the yeast. Or even mix the salt in with the water first.
Set your mixer with the dough hook to the lowest speed and mix for 10-13 minutes or so. As it is mixing drizzle in a good slug of olive oil. This is easier if you do this fairly early on in the process. You want a lovely smooth dough that’s nice and stretchy.
Once mixed, unhook your dough hook and pop a plastic cover of some sort over the top of your bowl. Shower cap is the best way to do this, makes the job so much easier. You can pick them up from eBay easily for pennies or make sure all your friends bring back the shower caps from their hotel stays 🙂 I honestly am never happier than when someone gives me their free shower cap (not used though!!)
Leave your gorgeous dough to rise for an hour or so till doubled in size. This can take longer, worry not. Keep it cozy and draught free and that will help.
Flour the tray you will bake it on and pop your risen dough on top and gently push it out to a sort of rectangle shape.
Leave to prove again for about half an hour whilst your oven heats up to whatever the top setting is.
Your lovely dough needs a couple of finishing touches before you stick her in the oven. First give your dough lots of deep dimples with your fingers and then drizzle over some more olive oil. Sprinkle your salt and herbs and then pop in your piping hot oven.
Cook at this high temp for the first ten minutes only and then turn your oven down to between 180 and 200 depending on how feisty and fan assisted your oven is. Then cook her for about another 20 minutes. Again you will need to watch and see how fast your oven is. What you want is a loaf that looks golden, smells fab and makes a hole sounds when tapped on the bottom.
Cool on a wire rack for as long as the family will allow, although it does slice more easily if it is cool.
One of our favourite recipes for a weekday yummy dinner that can be made in merest moments is Pasta Puttanesca. It is a great, cheap and tasty dish that I of course must thank Nigella for introducing me to. The basic recipe makes a delicious sauce that you add to your pasta of choice (tagliatelle is our fave for this) and top if you like with a little parmesan and serve with crunchy garlic bread or french bread. Om nom nom.
Well looking for inspiration for my bread recipe the other day I wondered what would happen if I took the puttenesca sauce and added it to a bread. I thought the result was pretty tasty. I think the trick to making a filled flavoured bread is to really ramp up the flavour. Next time I think I will add extra of pretty much everything as although the flavour was good it wasn’t nearly punchy enough.
Anyway, this is what I did (next time I’m going to add more anchovies and olives)
Basic Puttenesca sauce , serves 3-4
1 can anchovies – really finely chopped
1 can tinned chopped tomatoes
20 or so black olives
clove garlic – finely chopped
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (or to your taste)
tablespoon or so of capers
olive oil or rapeseed oil for frying
Heat up your oil in a frying pan and add your anchovies, lowish heat and sort of melt them. I know that sounds odd but trust me, gently sizzle them and they will kind of melt down.
Once you have done that add a few or more chilli flakes (to your taste) and your chopped garlic to the pan and gently fry for a minute or so. Not too hot or the garlic will burn. This recipe works fairly well without garlic. There has been several occasions when I have forgotten this and no one seemed to notice 🙂
Chuck in your chopped tomatoes and bring that up to a simmer.
Add your olives and capers, again you can add more or less to your taste. None of my kids like the capers at all but the sauce really misses them if you leave them out. It’s just not quite right without. All of my offspring happily eat round the capers. I’m sure one day they’ll eat them by mistake, ha ha.
Anyway, let this sauce gently bubble for around ten minutes. This is the perfect amount of time to cook your pasta and some garlic bread if you like.
Sometimes I add some of the starchy pasta water to my sauce, especially if I need this to feed four 🙂
For my Puttanesca bread.
I made a batch of basic white bread, see my recipe here
Once it had done it’s first prove, I gently flattened it out on my floured work surface. On this I spread my cooled puttanesca sauce. Then I rolled it up, swiss roll style, popped it in an oiled roasting pan. You can use whatever you have that’s large enough for the bread. Mine was a fair size!
Leave it to one side to have a second proving for an hour or so.
Meanwhile heat up your oven to 220 degrees c
Once the oven is hot and your bread is ready, pop it in the oven. Bake at this high temperature for ten minutes or so and then lower temperature to 200 degrees c and bake for another 20 minutes or so. You will need to adjust this according to how feisty your oven is and whether it is fan assisted.
I have only made this bread once so please bear this in mind if you give it a go. The recipe has not been tested at all! lol
Tasted pretty good though with a bit of parma ham for lunch later that day 🙂
Along with the rest of the nation, my family and I watched The Great British Bake Off, September 17th episode. This featured a technical challenge that required a certain degree of skill in even pronouncing the item they were baking!
Kouign Amann is something I have never come across before, and as we found on the programme neither had any of the bakers. Inspired to try and bake something new and also persuaded by my first born (he wanted to know what they tasted like) I decided to have a go. I do have the current bake off book which is pretty much for sale everywhere but you can also go onto the BBC website for all the bake off news and recipes from each episode 🙂
I would stress that you need to read the recipe thoroughly, it is an unusual one. Having said that, it is also a recipe using ingredients you are likely to already have in your cupboards, especially if you bake your own bread.
The other tips (bearing in mind I have made these just once) is that as you have sugar on these they will scorch. The recipe recommends that these are covered with foil halfway through to prevent this. I had run out and you can see how much mine caught from the pictures. You also need to set aside a lot of time, each stage doesn’t take long but you have lots of resting time in between stages. I would suggest that this is the perfect recipe to do on a day when you have lots to do round the house. I was a cleaning demon that day 🙂
These little creations taste yummy, sort of danish pastry/chelsea bun .They taste lovely warm or cold but my preference is definitely eat them warm. I would think the recipe will work well with some sultanas pushed through it, although I’m sure Mr Hollywood would pout and shake his head at me!! Heigh ho, give it a go 🙂
Well, decided to get back to blogging. Safe to say I am not very regular with my posts. In my head I am much more efficient. If I’m honest this may be the one and only post for a while again or I’ll have a little flurry of baking, crochet and writing activity. Who knows, part of the fun and mystery that is me!!!
Well as mentioned in the title of this blog, my favourite thing to eat at the moment is bruschetta with green olives, pesto and slow roasted baby tomatoes. I make the bread myself (of course). The best bread for this is a simple white bread, but a foccacia style or even a ciabatta work really well too. The good thing is that because you are toasting your bread it really doesn’t matter if it is a day old and on the sturdy side. This is a great way to use up that third of a loaf that I often have left over, especially now the kids seem to have suddenly grown up and left.
In order for you to have generous bruschetta, make sure you shape your loaf either to a bloomer style shape or use a tin. Whatever rocks your world. You can of course buy a rustic style loaf which would make this even easier to achieve 🙂
Basil pesto, I’m sure you could make this yourself but life is too short to faff. Sometimes you just want to eat something yummy now and if you made the bread you have done more than enough.
Jar of green olives, about half the jar will serve 2-3 of you. Rough chop these.
Cherry tomatoes, slow roasted (see mini recipe below)
drizzle of olive oil
Smattering of grated parmesan
Slow roasted tomatoes , serve warm
punnet of small/cherry tomatoes, halved
olive oil or rapeseed oil
oregano or basil, dried
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C
In an ovenproof dish place your halved tomatoes.
Drizzle over some olive oil, sprinkle on your sea salt, pepper and herbs
Pop your tomatoes in the oven and then turn the oven right down to 140 – 160 degrees c and bake for around 20 – 30 minutes or so till they are just starting to go a bit droopy and luscious looking. You’ll need to adjust a bit to suit depending on the feistiness of your oven. Mine has a tendency to nuke things especially if I’m multi tasking.
Nigella does do a fabulous version of her moon blush tomatoes where these are left in the oven overnight. Whilst I have made it her way many times, I am rarely prepared enough to know what I want to eat the day before!
Once you are ready to have your bruschetta, all you need to do is lightly toast your bread. Smear on a little or a lot of pesto, to your taste. Pop on a generous serving of olives and then place several halves of your warm tomatoes. Sprinkle on a little parmesan if you fancy. Drizzle over olive oil and eat. Yum. I often have this for lunch and feel very virtuous when doing so 🙂
Well, for goodness sake. How rubbish at this blogging lark am I. The plan was to bake and blog at least once a week, I think I am managing once a quarter. Hmmmmm, must do better. Hopefully it was worth the wait. Actually one of the reasons I have been slow to bake and blog is I have developed a bit of a passion for all things crochet. Thanks to a very dear friend who showed me how to hold the hook and youtube I am now able to conjure up blankets, baby shoes and as of this week a unicorn, an octopus and a baby owl!!
Right, now to get on with the recipe that I teased you all with in the title. Paul Holywood’s How to bake book has many yummy treats but one that I spotted recently looked especially appealing. The recipe makes two reasonable sized loaves and to our delight also lasted really well. So often with homemade bread you only have a day or so before it goes stale. This bread lasted beautifully for a couple of days and in fact we were still eating it happily on day three and four (it was a little sturdy by then but still very much in the yummy category).
As ever I tweaked a bit, mainly because the dried fruits I had in the cupboard were not quite but nearly the requested in the recipe below. My version was mainly sultanas, peel and apricots as I had no raisins. As long as you add the recommended amount of dried fruit I see no reason why you can’t play around with this too. I’m going to add dried cranberries next time too. Yum 🙂
Anyway, here is the recipe.
500g strong white flour
10g instant yeast
40g unsalted softened butter
50g caster sugar
3 medium eggs, beaten
160 ml warm full fat milk
160 ml cool water
60g chopped ready to eat dried apricots
60g chopped mixed peel
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
100g icing sugar, sifted
finely grated zest of one lemon
2-3 tbsp water
If you have a food mixer I would use it. This recipe would be tedious if done completely by hand although not impossible if you are feeling full of energy and not afraid of getting a bit sticky.
In your bowl of the mixer, place your flour and put your salt on one side and the yeast in the other. Add the butter, sugar, eggs, milk and half the water and mix on slow speed using the dough hook. Once the dough starts coming together you can slowly add the rest of the water.
Mix on medium speed for 5 minutes. Your dough should be elastic and soft to touch. If not mix it for another two minutes.
Add your dried fruit and cinnamon and then mix for a further 2 minutes. I mixed mine for around ten minutes in total in the end to get that dough really elastic and soft.
Cover your bowl with a bit of cling film or your handy shower cap (you can pick these up on eBay for a quid or so for ten) Leave to rise for at least an hour probably two though. It wants to be at least double original size.
Meanwhile, line a couple of baking trays with baking paper
Once your dough is all awesome and huge, tip it out on to your floured surface and gently knock it back by folding it over a few times. Divide into two pieces. Shape each piece into a loaf shape and pop it onto it’s tray. Put these trays into plastic bags and leave them to prove again for an hour so they can double in size.
Preheat your oven to 210 degrees C.
When your dough has proved itself, pop in the oven for 20 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on their bottoms. My oven is a bit aggressive so I find I need to turn it down to 190. Leave it on a wire rack to cool.
Once your bread has cooled a bit but still warm you can top with the icing, simply mix your icing sugar, zest and water together to a smooth batter and then brush this over the warm loaves. Leave to cool.
Slice and eat with a lovely cup of tea.
I stored these loaves in a large tupperware box happily for several days. I would think if you choose not to ice both, the second plain one would make gorgeous toast for a delicious breakfast.
My daughter and I were reading cook books yesterday, as you do. We wanted something yummy to have with our afternoon tea. When she comes home from college I have usually finished my work for the day, so we have got into the delightful habit of having a cup of tea, biscuit/cake type thing. She then watches “Come Dine with Me” whilst I dabble with a bit of crochet (my latest creative love, so very, very addictive that I have been known to leave it almost too late to pick up the husband from the station!).
Anyway, when my daughter found the page for Chelsea buns she got very excited which, as we all know is a challenge for the average teenager. So with her help we gathered the ingredients together to make these buns. As they are a bread type thing they do take a while. Luckily for the youngest and myself I had other emergency biscuits in the house to tide us over whilst these were doing their thing. They did, in fact take hours, as my house was on the chilly side yesterday which really slowed the proving time down 😦 I am sure Mr Hollywood would also suggest that because it is an enriched dough that would also cause it to take longer to prove. Not an expert here at all so I suspect a bit of trial and error on these is required.
I found the mixture was quite dry and next time I make these I may add a smidge more liquid, not too much though as the end result tasted pretty good.
The recipe for these came from the The Great British Book of Baking.
For the dough:
50g unsalted butter
450g strong white flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 7g sachet of easy blend yeast
1 medium free range egg
For the filling:
50g unsalted butter, melted
75g dark muscovado sugar
150g dried vine fruits
For the glaze:
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons of runny honey
A large roasting pan, greased with butter to bake. Do not make the mistake I did. I thought I would also line with baking paper but with the glaze all I managed to achieve was a sticky paper bottom that was baked on. As a family we ate round that but if you had guests it would be tricky to ask them to do that unless you know them really well! 🙂
Gently warm your milk and butter together (from the dough list). Cool it slightly so it is lukewarm (pop your finger in, if you can’t feel it then it is perfect). Beat your egg into this mixture.
In your mixing bowl (I used my electric mixer but you can do this by hand) put in all your dough dry ingredients and then tip in your milky eggy buttery mix. Mix together either slowly in the mixer or by hand until your dough is a soft consistency. The recommendation in the book is to knead by hand for 10 minutes or slow setting in the machine for 4. I kneaded for 10 in the mixer in the end as the dough looked too stiff. I can’t say whether this is the correct way, but for me the dough looked better for it.
Once kneaded, place your dough in a bowl covered with cling film or your handy shower cap ( I really must get some more, nothing so frustrating as cling film that won’t come off the roll with ease)
Leave for at least an hour to double in size. Mine took nearly two to do it’s thing.
Knock your dough back and then tip onto your work surface that you have already floured in anticipation of this moment. Cut it into two and roll each piece out into rectangles that measure around 38x13cm. As you can imagine from my hung ho approach to baking, I did not measure it but just rolled them out till they looked about the same!
From the filling list, brush your melted butter over each rectangle, sprinkle over the muscovado and fruit and then roll up like a swiss roll. Roll from the long side. Cut each roll into 8 and then arrange them in your tin quite close together and then cover and leave for 40 minutes or so to prove again.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees c or gas mark 6
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.
While they are baking you can prepare your glaze. Put all your glaze ingredients into a small pan and gently warm together. Do not boil.
When your buns are golden 🙂 take them out of the oven and brush on your glaze and then return to the oven for a final 5 minutes.
When you take these out of the oven, leave them in the tin for around 10 minutes to cool slightly before you remove them completely to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Restrain yourself from eating them straight away the sugars are really hot and will burn your mouth. Almost worth it 🙂
We found this recipe was really, really sweet and next time I make these I would reduce the muscovado probably by half. I am also going to add some cinnamon and other spices next time too. I suspect that will be delicious, so could possible reduce the sugars even further. The picture in the book also shows these with caster sugar sprinkled over the top! I would suggest that you don’t. Try them first, add if you need. Have fun playing around with the recipe, I would love to hear any thoughts on other versions of these.
P.S Whilst all this has been going on my cats who usually fight decided to try spooning today 🙂 Please note Bernard (the one at the back ) has his paw on Agnes’s shoulder. Too, too cute. Shame it won’t last
As always I have to make the nod to Nigella, Feast. This was the first cook book that I really started to try recipes from. Up until that point I would read cook books and stare longingly at the pictures. Nigella’s book made me want to have a go. Her recipes are easy to follow and that is what I wanted to achieve for my family. A collection of recipes that are reliable, tasty and good value.
450g mashed bananas. 3 medium bananas is about right, I have never weighed them and the recipe works fine. No stress baking here. Make sure the bananas are very very ripe. You know the ones that sit in the fruit bowl until you throw them away, they are perfect for this.
60ml corn oil. I never seem to have the right oil but vegetable/sunflower, even light olive oil all work fine.
3 eggs, medium
zest and juice of half a lemon
200g caster sugar
325g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract. I tend to use vanilla paste for preference but whatever you have is as always fine! 🙂
Preheat your oven to gas mark 4/180 degrees c. My oven is a little feisty so I find that 160 degrees c is about right.
Oil your tin of choice, I have ring mould (1.5l) which makes the ring shaped cake that Nigella refers to but use whatever you have. I have also baked this cake using two standard cake tins and adjusted the cooking time. This is a really forgiving mixture so play around with whatever you have.
In a bowl put your mashed bananas, add the oil, eggs, lemon juice and zest, vanilla and sugar. Whisk together.
Then fold in your flour, bicarb and baking powder.
Pour your batter into your oiled tin/s.
Bake for around 40 minutes. As I said earlier you may need to adjust this depending on your tin choice. You’ll know it’s cooked when a skewer run through comes out clean and it has a bounce to it when gently pressed. I also find that when the teenagers start appearing it is nearly done. It does smell yummy when cooking.
Take it out of the oven and leave it for around 10 minutes before turning it out to cool properly.
This cake keeps for a good long while. I can usually add it to packed lunches for the week as well as snacks for after college. You can of course eat it as Nigella intended, for breakfast with a cuppa and a smidge of chocolate spread if you like.
Possibly one of the easiest recipes you will ever make,
Firstly I should acknowledge Paul Hollywood. This recipe was gleaned from his book, How to Bake. When I was leafing through his book I saw the picture of these breads and thought immediately how much my pizza loving brood would enjoy these. I also felt they were a tad healthier than pizzas. When I made these we had them with salads, cold meats and cheeses. They are a great tear and share bread. The bread is best served fresh and warm from the oven but I did keep one for the next day and it refreshed beautifully in the oven. I sprinkled a little water on it and blasted it in a hot oven (200 c) for around 5-7 minutes. Generally though if you have a family of teens and young adults as I do the 4 loaves that this recipe makes will be eaten in one sitting, no problem :). You will need around 2 hours to have these breads ready for dinner.
500g Strong White flour
10g Instant Yeast
400ml tepid water
2tbsp olive oil
Fine semolina for dusting if you have it, optional.
2 balls of Mozzarella
20 Cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
Dried oregano for sprinkling
Oil a 2-3 litre square plastic container.That is what Paul say’s however I do not own a square plastic container so used the large plastic mixing bowl that I have instead. I believe this worked fine. Use whatever you have in your kitchen, the container is used to prove your bread.
In a food mixer with the dough hook is the best way to make this bread. It is too wet to mix by hand. However if you are feeling adventurous, give it a go. I would love to hear from someone who has made this by hand and how well it worked.
Put your flour in your mixing bowl with the salt on one side and the yeast on the other side. Add around three quarters of the water and start to mix the dough on a low speed. As it starts to come together add the remaining water. Mix for around 5-8 minutes on a medium speed. At this stage your dough should be nice and stretchy. Now add your olive oil and mix for another 2 minutes.
Pop your dough into your oiled tub and cover with whatever you have to hand. I always use a trusty shower cap but cling film, a damp tea towel work well. I have also used a “bag for life” when I had nothing else and that worked too!
Leave it to prove itself for about an hour. You want the dough to double in size. Put it in a warm place out of draughts.
Line a couple of baking trays with baking parchment. When I made this bread last time I had run out of baking paper so just lightly oiled the sheets and that worked fine.
Dust your work surface generously with flour, adding semolina too if you have it. Gently tip out your dough onto the floured surface, unusually for dough you don’t want to knock it back but keep as much air in as possible. Coat the top of your dough with flour too. Cut the dough in half lengthways and then cut each half across in two. You will have 4 pieces of dough.
Gently stretch each piece a little bit and lay down onto your prepared sheets. 2 loaves per sheet.
Push 10 tomato halves into the breads. As you can see from my pictures I did not have enough tomatoes, worry not, use what you have! Tear your mozzarella into smallish pieces and push them into the bread in-between the tomatoes.
Sprinkle your breads with a little olive oil and then your oregano. I used some garlic infused olive oil for extra yumminess and mixed italian herbs. Noms.
Leave your bread to rest for around 15 minutes. Meanwhile pop your oven on to 210 degrees C.
Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Pop them onto a cooling rack but make sure to eat them whilst still warm.
After too long I am finally back to baking on a regular basis and therefore blogging can recommence as well. Bread making has been one of the things that I have been doing more of. Partly motivated by cost of horrible sliced bread, usually well over a pound a loaf, and also motivated by a need to eat good, healthy, tasty food. Of course there is a time element to baking bread but a lot of that time your lovely loaf of bread doesn’t actually need you. All you really need is 20 minutes or so to mix and kneed, go off and do whatever you need to do for an hour or so and then knock it back, re prove and bake. Actually reading that back it still sounds time consuming! I do tend to bake on days that I am at home and busy being a domestic goddess ( don’t believe a word of it, my house is shockingly messy! ). I can usually be a bit more motivated if there are yummy things baking whilst I do battle with the bathroom grime 😦 🙂
What I have decided to try and do is work my way through all my various bread recipe books and endeavour to find time friendly bread recipes that are easy to. But first here is my tried and tested standard white loaf recipe. It is a mix of recipes that I have tweaked to suit me and my kitchen. Feel free to tweak it for you, would love to hear any suggestions.
500g strong white flour
325ml warm water
7g easy bake fast action yeast
1 tbsp of oil of your choice – we use olive but rapeseed is lovely too.
I usually mix my breads in a food mixer with a dough hook but you can easily do this one by hand as it is quite a soft dough. In your bowl put all your ingredients in except the oil. Making sure you have the yeast away from the salt (opposite sides of the bowl).
Gradually add the oil whilst your mixer is doing it’s job. If you are hand mixing this you can add the oil at the beginning or incorporate it when you are kneading.
Mix for 10 minutes on slow speed or until the dough looks smooth and you can stretch the dough easily. If you are kneading by hand you will need to do this for at least 10 minutes. Great destresser!
Once you have a lovely smooth dough in your bowl you need to leave it to prove for around an hour or until doubled in size. If your house is chilly it may take a while, worry not the longer it takes the yummier it will be. You will need to cover the bowl to create the right environment for your dough. I use a shower cap as this makes that task so easy. You can use a damp tea towel or some cling film if you prefer.
Once your dough is all lovely and proved you can tip it out onto a floured work surface. Knock it back ( gently knock it with your knuckles) and then shape into whatever loaf you fancy making. I love to make freeform loaves but a loaf tin is useful especially if you want to slice this for sandwiches. You can also use this dough to make rolls. I made last night 10 good sized rolls out of this dough.
Put your loaf or rolls in/on their tins/baking sheets. I usually drizzle a little oil on to prevent sticking but sometimes forget and the bread usually comes out fine 🙂
Leave the bread in a warm area for around half an hour so it can rise again. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.
You can put your bread in the oven naked ( the bread not you!) or you can do an egg glaze and sprinkle some seeds on this. On the rolls add some sesame seeds and the rolls work great as burger buns or cheese for an interesting twist.
Place in oven, bake for around 20/25 minutes for the loaf or 15/17 minutes for the rolls. You will have to play around with this as all ovens are different and you know yours better than I do.
What you are looking for is a golden crust and when you tap it’s bottom it should sound hollow.
Leave to cool on a rack for as long as you can. It will slice more easily if it’s cold!
I was very inspired recently by the TV series The Great British Bake Off. What finally got me baking from it, was the short series that followed it of masterclasses. I had already purchased the book (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Great-British-Bake-Off-showstoppers/dp/1849904634) but once I had seen the very delicious Paul Hollywood produce this loaf, I simply had to have a go. It is actually not as tricky as it looks. As long as you follow the instructions, at times you think you may have gone wrong, especially at the beginning of the plait but trust Mr Hollywood, it will be fine.
500g strong white flour
2 x 7g sachets fast action dried yeast
20 ml olive oil
340 ml water at room temperature
1 beaten egg, mixed with a pinch of salt to glaze
1 baking sheet, dusted with flour
Put your flour into a large mixing bowl. Put the salt in on one side and the yeast on the other. Add your oil, mix together.
Add 3/4 of the water and start to bring the ingredients together with your hands, then work in the rest of the water. Knead for around 10 minutes until the mixture is silky, stretchy and soft.
You can absolutely use a food mixer for this. I always do. If you do use a mixer, add your water to the bowl first. This I find, makes the ingredients combine more effectively. Use the dough hook attachement and mix on the lowest speed for around 10 minutes.
Once your dough is mixed pop it into an oiled bowl and cover with cling film or get some shower caps ( usually pretty cheap on eBay ) as these are so easy to just pull over the top of most mixing bowls. Leave this in a warm place for around an hour or until the mixture has doubled in size.
Knock back your dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, shape it into a sausage and divide into 8 equal pieces.
Then take each piece and roll into a long strand,around 40cm in length.
Lay the strands out onto your work surface, much like an octopus and gather the ends together. Squish them a bit so they stick to each other and then push down so that they then stick to the surface.
As they are laid out in front of you, number them 1 – 8 and then plait using the following sequence. Note that every time you move the strands, the numbers will revert to the original 1 – 8 sequence. Step 1 is only done once.
Place strand 8 under strand 7 then over strand 1.
Strand 8 over strand 5.
Strand 2 under strand 3, then over strand 8
Strand 1 over strand 4
Strand 7 under strand 6 and then over strand 1.
Then repeat the steps from step 2 until you have plaited your entire loaf. Tuck the ends under neatly.
Pop your loaf onto your preprepared baking sheet and leave to prove for about an hour or doubled in size.
When your loaf has been proving for about 3/4 hour or so, pop your oven on to get to temperature. 220 degrees C/400 degrees F/gas mark 6
Brush your risen loaf with your beaten egg and then bake for around 20-25 minutes. The loaf will sound hollow when you tap it on its bottom when it is cooked.
Cool on a wire rack.
Try and stop the family eating this when it is just out of the oven, as it will not slice happily hot. Patience is a virtue in this case!