Baking your bread is a very satisfying thing to do especially on a wet Sunday afternoon. I've been experimenting and adapting this delicious rustic Italian style loaf recipe from my cookbook collection, and it is easy to make and delicious just on its own with butter.
Makes a single loaf
- 400g strong white flour
- 100g wholemeal flour
- 5g salt
- 10g fast-action dried yeast
- 300ml warm water
- 40 ml extra virgin olive oil plus extra for brushing
- 2 Teaspoons of honey
- Add the flours, salt and yeast to a large bowl ( I add them straight to the bowl of my kitchen aid and mix using your hands or a spoon. Add the honey to the water and stir until dissolved. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water/honey mixture and the oil.
- If you have a mixer, attach the dough hook and set the mixer going on setting #1 for 5 minutes until everything is nicely mixed, and then turn up to setting #2 for a further 5 minutes until you have a smooth elastic dough. If you haven't got a mixer, then mix the ingredients with a spoon or your hand, and then turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Shape into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place away from draughts for 1 hour. (I use the airing cupboard).
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Knead for 5 minutes. I do this by adding back to the mixer bowl with the dough hook attached and mix on setting 2 - it's lazy, but it works! I saw this method on a Raymond Blanc TV program. So, if it's good enough for him!.
- Shape into an oval. (Note: I often take a third of the dough and shape into 4 rectangular pieces to make some panini-style bread rolls too). Place onto a piece of baking parchment on a baking tray (or an oiled tray without the parchment) cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place away from draughts for up to an hour or until doubled in size. (If you decide to make some rolls, put them on to a separate tray).
- Sieve a little flour on to the top of the loaf (rolls) and bake in the middle of a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees C/gas mark 6 for 40 minutes (30 minutes for rolls).
- Cool on a wire rack.
Note: To improve the crustiness of the loaf place a baking tray in the bottom of the oven and just before you pop the bread in pour some cold water or ice cubes onto the tray to create steam.
Norah's Bread Making Essentials:
- Wooden Spoon
- Measuring Jug
- Large Baking Bowl
- Baking Tray