Rosemary and sundried tomato bread
Makes one loaf or 8 mini loaves or rolls
I’ve been baking bread for a few years. It took me a while to get the technique right as I seemed to get very heavy bread or bread with not enough flavour, but now I have the technique mastered, I like to experiment with extra flavourings. These are rosemary and sundried tomato mini loaves. Making bread seems so simple as there are just a few basic ingredients but with a bit of knowledge, a little skill and a lot of imagination, a basic bread dough can flavoured or shaped into almost anything and the possibilities are endless. I’ve included a few basic bread flavourings but feel free to experiment with anything you fancy.
14g or half an oz or 2 x 7g sachets dried yeast
15g or half an oz honey (or sugar)
310ml or just over 1 pint tepid water
250g or 8 and three quarter oz strong flour plus extra for dusting
250g or 8 and three quarter oz plain flour
8g or quarter oz salt
Optional flavourings (in any combination)
60g or 2 oz sundried tomatoes
60g or 2 oz olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
60g or 2 oz caramelised onions
Dissolve the yeast and honey or sugar in half of the tepid water. The water needs to be around body temperature in order to get the yeast activated but not so hot that it denatures or kills the yeast
In a large bowl, pile the bread flour, plain four and salt and make a well in the centre of pile. You can put the flour straight onto a large work surface if you like but I find I just end up making a mess so I always use a bowl. Pour the dissolved yeast mixture into the well and move your fingers in a circular motion to slowly incorporate the liquid into the dry ingredients until all of has been soaked up. Next, slowly pour in the other half of the tepid water into the flour and gradually incorporate it. You want the dough to be quite moist as the more moist it is, the lighter your bread will be.
Once you have a nice and moist dough, you need to start kneading it. With all the moisture, the dough will quite sticky and difficult to handle so just dust your work surface with some more flour to make it all a bit easier. Kneading develops the structure of the dough and involves pulling it apart with fingers, as well as rolling, pushing and folding it over and over for about five minutes.
Now to proving. I use my mixing bowl to prove the dough in and I just cover the bowl with cling film to prevent the dough from sticking, then place the dough inside, scouring it so that it proves faster. I also cover the bowl over with cling film but you can also be a bit more old school and cover it over with a clean, damp tea towel. The dough needs to double in size for this first proving in a warm, moist and draught free place. I generally put it on top of the preheated oven but you could also use an airing cupboard, a plate warmer or just a warm room. Again you don’t want the dough to get too hot as this would kill the yeast. If you also want to preheat the oven now, you need it at 215°C (fan oven) / 225°C/ gas mark 7.
Once the dough has doubled in size, you need to knock it back. This is one of my favourite bits of bread making, other than kneading. You get to punch the soft, air filled dough to knock the air out and it’s strangely very satisfying. Give the dough another quick knead for about a minute to knock any extra air out and then shape it. Make you oil whatever tin you’re cooking the bread in. My first bread making experience was pretty disasterous as I didn’t realise I needed to do and my entire loaf was glued to the tin and had to be ripped apart to eat it. If you’re adding flavouring to the bread, you need to add it now and knead it in and shape it once you have everything nicely mixed. Once you have the dough shaped in whatever you’re making, then allow to prove for a second time in a warm place, again until it has doubled in size.
Now to cook the bread. Try not to knock the bread as you put it into the oven and don’t slam the door when you close the oven, or you might undo all that hard work of making a light bread. For a loaf, bake for around twenty to twenty five minutes and for mini loaves or rolls for around ten to fifteen minutes. You can tell if the bread is cooked by tapping it’s bottom (you’ll have to remove it from the tin in order to do this). If it sounds hollow, then it’s cooked, if not then cook for a little longer.
Allow the bread to cool on a cooling rack for at least forty five minutes for a loaf or fifteen minutes for mini loaves or rolls. I like to eat my fresh bread with some oil and balsamic vinegar or just some butter.