Tag Archives: bread

I think I’ve cracked it…

The shorts are back in London and we’re stuck at home through a mixture of extreme cold and complete laziness. Netflix is being hit hard (still 15 days left on the free trial) and we’re slowly cycling through the first 5 seasons of The Office USA. It’s pretty much the only thing we’ve found on there that isn’t already available in the HMV remainders bin. Incidentally, if you have a spare minute or two and you really have nothing else to do, check out their “New Releases” – I think it’s fair to say that if their interpretation of the phrase were any looser, it would be turning tricks for five quid a pop down a Norwich back street.

So it’s back to bread making and we pretty much have it down now. Rather than churning through the whole process (already covered last week), I thought it would be a good idea to pick out a few things that might mean the difference between mediocre and really great bread.

The basic recipe for the bread this time was a basic bread dough, green and red olives, jalapenos and finely grated gruyere and parmesan – the jalapenos really worked well.

dad at the weekend’s top bread-making tips:

  1. Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes – don’t be lazy…
  2. Get the salt quantity right – too little and it has no taste, too much and it will affect the rising process
  3. Add a little honey to your warm water to help the yeast and give the bread depth
  4. Allow the bread to rise twice – once for at least an 90 minutes, in a very low oven (less than 40 c) and with a damp tea towel covering the bowl. The second time again for at least half an hour. Don’t cut corners here…
  5. Sprinkle a little flour over the bread before you put it in the oven
  6. Make sure the oven is at least 220c and put a tray of water in there to create a good steamy atmosphere


And another loaf we made today with strong white flour and poppy seeds…



It should be easier than this…

What was it that made me believe that baking bread was easy? Maybe it is easy and I am just incapable? Is it like being green fingered in that you either have it or you don’t? (For someone who likes to think that he’s quite good at stuff, it frustrates me to the core that I am utterly useless at keeping plants alive: herbs, chillies, carrots, spuds, flowers, trees – I’ve killed them all) Maybe that’s what it is – I’m really good at killing plants and making rather ordinary bread.

I think I am getting better, but it still doesn’t come naturally to me at all – I really have to try hard, and even when I do, I only just about manage to produce a loaf that is kind of edible, eatable, whatever – I mean, you wouldn’t single it out if it were offered to you in a bread basket at your local Italian restaurant, but you’d probably just about force it down if I served it to you when you came over for lunch. That’s how good my bread is. It’s about as good as I was at rugby when I was in the third form (that reminds me – does anyone who was at school with me remember Mr Mullineux and the way he had to strap it to his leg when he wore shorts in rugby training? – my god that was revolting…)

Anyway – I tried particularly hard today, and, with Immie’s help, I think we may have pulled off a minor coup – we made a loaf of bread that is not only edible, but you can just about take a photo of it and post it on a blog – result. And here it is…

Gruyere and olive bread

So I start with 500g of this really good “organic oak smoked stoneground strong malted blend flour” (I know – what a bloody mouthful – but it’s pretty good). To it, add a 7g sachet of yeast, a good pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of honey dissolved in about 300ml of warm water. Mix the whole lot together and knead for about 10 minutes then leave in your mixing bowl in a warm place with covered with a wet tea towel for at least an hour.

In the meantime chop a couple of handfuls of olives and grate a decent sized chunk of gruyere (really as much of each as you like).

When the dough has doubled in size, take it out of the bowl and fold in the cheese and olives with your hands, divide and shape into whatever forms take your fancy and then put it onto a floured baking tray back in a warm place, covered with the damp tea towel for at least another half hour.

Heat your oven to 225 degrees and into it put a tray, half full of water. When you’re ready, put the bread in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until it’s golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom. That’s it.

Now cue the comments that are going to tell me what I did wrong and why I keep screwing up my bread. Bring it on people…