It’s halfway through March and I’ve managed to bake my second loaf of bread. Just to be clear, I don’t own a breadmaker. Like many young people at the moment, the only accommodation I can afford on my low income is a room in a flat-share. I simply don’t have space for much kitchen equipment beyond a hand blender. So you really CAN make lovely fresh breads with just little counter space and your own fair hands. The initial weighing, mixing and kneading takes about half an hour, then five minutes to knock it back and reshape it between the two proves. I always assume TV cooks are lying when they tell you this kind of thing, but it really is true! Go forth and bake bread.
I was a bit annoyed that the bread caught in the oven (can’t bear to write b*rnt) even though I reduced the temperature and baking time. Definitely feeling persecuted by my oven. I’ll give the times and temperature that Paul Hollywood recommends, perhaps just check it five or ten minutes before the end and adjust the temperature if you know you have an over-zealous cooker. This is a lovely soft white bread with the St Clements tang of citrus zest and bursts of cherry.
- 500g strong white flour
- 10g (2 scant tsps) salt
- 30g (2tbsp) sugar
- 40g butter, room temperature
- 15g (2 sachets) fast action yeast
- 1 lemon, zest only,
- 3 oranges, zest only
- 300ml water
- 75g dried cherries
1. Put all of the ingredients except the cherries and water in a large bowl, with the salt and yeast on opposite sides.
2. Add as much of the water as you need to make a smooth dough, then transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes.
3. Put back in the bowl, cover and leave to prove for an hour, until doubled in size.
4. Line a baking tray with parchment. Add the cherries to the dough. It’s probably worth doing this in 3-4 batches so they get distributed evenly.
5. Divide the dough in two and roll each to about 30 cm. Twist them together and tuck the ends under. I would try and tuck the cherries inside the loaf to prevent them being scorched in the oven. Transfer to the tray, cover and leave to rise for another hour.
Getting a Paul Hollywood bread book for Christmas inspired me to try and bake more bread in 2014. I had a bash last year when I found a lovely recipe for a honey and oat loaf. However, I tend to subscribe to the ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ school of baking and so made that bread 10 times rather than branch out and risk something new. Well, this year I will try to break the habit.
The first recipe that struck me was this chive and ricotta bread. I tried ricotta for the first time about a year ago and loved it. Well it is cheese, after all. I don’t think I’ve ever bought chives before. They’re the sort of thing I tend to omit from recipes as they seem more decorative than anything else. They give this bread a distinct oniony taste that is quite nice, but I prefer my breads to be on the sweet side. Still, I have the other half of the dough in the freezer and I’m looking forward to it.
This is the second loaf, which survived freezing well, though I think I overworked the dough a bit so it seemed a bit less light.
- 1kg strong white flour
- 3tsp salt
- 30g instant yeast
- 150ml olive oil
- 600ml water
- 250g ricotta
- 4tbsp chopped chives
Makes 2 large loaves
Put all ingredients except chives into a large bowl, then mix using your hands for 3-4mins.
Tip onto a floured surface and knead for 2-3minutes.
Add the chives, then knead for a further 3-4minutes.
Cover with clingfilm or a damp tea-towel and leave to prove for about 90minutes, until doubled in size.
Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
Tip the dough onto a floured surface and divide. If freezing, wrap half of the dough in clingfilm then place in a plastic container in the freezer. To resume the recipe, leave to thaw in the fridge overnight and then proceed as below, adding more time for the second prove (about double).
Shape half into a rough sausage, tapered at both ends. Place on tray and leave to prove, lightly covered with clingfilm, for about an hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 220C (190 fan).
Bake for 25minutes until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Put on a wire rack to cool.
This bread colours really nicely in the oven. There’s probably a reason for that but I don’t know it! It’s cracked because I’m stupid and dropped it on the floor seconds after removing it from the oven.