Home-baked bread – the best thing since sliced bread.
I am a huge fan of baking bread, it does takes a little work and a little love but every gram of energy you put into it, you’ll get back tenfold. We all know how good freshly baked bread can be from a bakery, but when it’s actually of your own hands, that first warm, soft bite will lift the weight of the world off your shoulders. I believe it was Andy (my first pastry chef) who showed me how to make bread when I lived in Liverpool (UK), however I cannot quite remember if it was a Brioche loaf or an Irish soda bread. Either way, this Pistachio Dukkah Bread is for you.
- 500g bread flour
- 310ml tepid water
- 7g dried yeast
- 2tsp fine sea salt
- 20g caster sugar
- 1½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 20g Dukkah (or rosemary, thyme, or any other dry flavouring you like)
It’s easy really. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and make a pile on a clean workbench, and create a well in the middle. Mix together your water and yeast then pour into the well, before gradually incorporating the flour to make a dough. Needless to say, try not to break the wall of flour otherwise the water will spill all over kitchen! Although if you have a KitchenAid, use a dough hook attachment and the whole process is faster, easier and a whole lot less fulfilling.
When the dough is combined and workable, slowly knead it until you reach a smooth ball. If you need helping kneading then check out this useful video – I apologise for the American accent.
Now, carefully place your dough into a floured bowl, cover loosely with cling film and set in a warm-ish place (such as in an airing cupboard) for about two hours, until it is doubled in size, more or less. Turn it back out onto your bench and knock back, i.e. knead the dough again briefly so that the dough goes back to it’s original size. Return to your warm spot on a flat floured baking tray to prove again. If you want to, slash the top of the bread to a depth of about a centimetre after you’ve set it on the tray, before proving.
When the dough looks like it’s doubled in size again, gently slide into a preheated oven at 180°C and bake for around 20 minutes. Take a look (it shouldn’t be quite ready yet, but you’ll have filled your home with the smell of bread by now), and if you like you can brush the forming crust with water or eggwash and sprinkle with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or whatever you like. The bread will need about another ten minutes in the oven; the best way to tell if it is actually finished is to hold it upside down (in a tea-towel, or you’ll burn your hand!) and tap the base – it should sound hollow if it’s cooked fully.
When finished, cool on a wire rack and eat on the same day. Fresh bread such as this will not last as long as sliced supermarket bread, which is pumped full of preservatives. Like cake, you shouldn’t really slice until the bread has cooled, but there is nothing quite as satisfying as melting butter on fresh bread. Enjoy. Then have another slice.