I love baking and always have strong bread flour in my cupboard to curb the baking craving. But there is nothing more disappointing then curbing the craving with a terrible bread outcome. Time is precious and when baking fails its not only upsetting but time wasted.
Knowing that the base of any great bread is perfect science, seeking a fantastic bread recipe is tough as soo many can be hit and miss. But when a recipe delivers times after time, like this one from Richard Bertinet an award-winning chef and baker with 30 years of experience, who runs the Bertinet Kitchen cookery school in Bath then I had to share it. It was published in the telegraph 28th Sept 2010.
If you are new to baking this is a fantastic recipe to get you started and for those that bake often, then this is just another recipe to add to your collection.
I topped mine with rocket pesto and vintage cheddar cheese see the picture below:
- Chili oil and thyme
- Chorizo and mozzarella
- Olives and garlic
- 500g (1lb 2oz) strong bread flour
- 350ml (12 fl oz) water
- 10g (1 heaped tsp) yeast (fresh if possible)
- or 5g (½ level tsp) dry
- 10g (1 level tsp) sea salt
I used Dove’s Farm dried fast yeast.
Makes 4 large or 2 small
- Preheat oven to its highest level.
- Rub the yeast into the flour (or mix in if using dried yeast). Add the remaining ingredients and the water. Mix for a couple of minutes until the dough starts to form.
- Transfer the dough onto your working surface. Continue to mix the ingredients by stretching out the dough and folding it over onto itself.
- Keep working the dough until it comes cleanly away from the work surface and is not sticky.
- Lightly flour the work surface, place the dough on the flour and form the dough into a ball.
- Place the dough into a mixing bowl and cover with a tea towel.
- Rest the dough for a minimum of an hour. Turn out gently onto a well-floured surface. Be careful not to deflate it but expect it to spread out to cover a square of your work surface. Generously flour the top of the dough, cover with a clean tea towel and rest for five minutes.
- Using a plastic scraper (or a thin wooden spatula), divide the dough into two oblongs then cut each piece again into three roughly triangular strips.
- Make 1 large diagonal cut in each piece of dough, making sure you cut right through to the work surface but not through to the corners.
- Make 3 smaller diagonal cuts on each side of the central one. Gently open out the holes with your fingers and shake off the excess flour.
- Lift onto a lightly floured baking tray and slide onto the hot baking stone or tray in your oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.
- Variations – before leaving the dough to rest, add halved olives, roasted peppers or onions or press rosemary or thyme leaves into each one before baking.
- ‘Dough: Simple Contemporary Bread’ by Richard Bertinet (Kyle Cathie) is £19.99. For Richard’s bread-making demonstrations see:www.gourmet.com/magazine/video/2008/03/bertinet_sweetdough
- It is always better to make bread by hand to achieve a lighter loaf.
- Give time to the dough. The quicker you make it, the quicker it will go stale.
- Be accurate about your quantities. I weigh everything, including my water.
- Use a good strong white flour such as Canadian Strong White Flour from Waitrose (www.waitrose.com) and fresh yeast is best. If you use dried, only use half of what is recommended as it is often too strong.
- Bake at the hottest oven temperature possible and straight onto a baking stone, ideally made from granite or terracotta, never marble. You can buy granite chopping boards in Sainsbury’s that do the trick.
- To get a really good crust, where all the flavour is, preheat the oven and spray water very finely inside with 15-20 squirts to create steam. Then load the oven and finish with five more squirts and close the door. Bake the last three to four minutes with the oven door open a fraction to give a crisper crust.
- Essential tool: a plastic scraper – an “extension of my hands” – which you cut, scrape and do everything with.