July 08, 2011

Baking Bread

This morning I longed for some freshly baked bread – lovely generous slices of savory bread dipped in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.   

While paging through recipe after recipe my eyes fell on a bread recipe which called for rye flour and fresh seasonal herbs.  I substituted with what I had in the kitchen – wholemeal flour, dried herbs and garlic.  And what a successful combination it was!  Warm and soft on the inside and crispy on the outside with subtle hints of herb and garlic.   

This is a light everyday rustic kind of bread.  If you don't like kneading dough, you could save yourself some time (and work) by using an electric mixer with a dough hook.  Substitute dried herbs with fresh seasonal herbs when available.


Makes 1 loaf

1 ¾ cups wholemeal plain flour
1 cup plain flour
2 ½ tsp dried yeast
1 tsp fine sea salt
3 tbsp honey
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
175ml warm water
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp garlic granules

Place the flours, yeast and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine.  Make a well in the centre and slowly pour in the combined honey, oil and water mixture while mixing everything together with your other hand.  As soon as the mixture comes together and forms a dough, turn the dough onto a floured working surface and knead for 5 minutes.  If the dough gets sticky, add extra wholemeal or plain flour and continue kneading.  Alternatively, do all of the above in an electric mixer using the dough hook.  The dough will become smooth and elastic.  

Shape the dough into a ball and dust with a little flour to prevent sticking.  Transfer the dough back into the bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the dough doubles up in size.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead in the herbs and garlic.  Form into an oval shape and place in a greased baking tray.  Brush with a little olive oil, sprinkle over a few more dried herbs and then slash across the top of the dough with a sharp knife.  Cover loosely with cling film and allow to rest and rise again for about 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden.  Allow to cool before slicing.