Serves: Makes 2 large loaves
Approx cost: €1
Approx calories (per slice): ~75
Approx preparation and cooking time: 3 hours (mostly “unattended”)
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #173B0B;”] H aving a food blog I feel like sometimes I’m really “putting myself out there” sometimes – I’m sure my fellow food bloggers will have similar feelings and experiences. Something you’ve cooked, which you may find delicious – you post about it and then you get an email pinging into your inbox. “A comment” you cry excitedly, oh pray, did my reader find this recipe as wonderful as I did? You open the email and your heart sinks: “Whoa, this recipe is horrible – complete failure, no taste, urgh!”. Ok, this has never happened to me – I’ve had one marginally negative comment but it wasn’t really bad to be honest. Still, I always feel a sense of responsibility – Of course I want people to try the things I post about. I love it when they do, and it’s truly an honour but at the same time it’s a stress that someone might be pitching their trust in me, their hopes and dreams for a dinner party, a hot date, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll let them down with something which ends up being inedible slop. Still, I try to only post about my successes – so hopefully all the things here can potentially be successful.
I’m really not one to toot my own horn (well, not publicly at least :D) but I’m just going to get this out of the way before I continue: this bread… is amazing. If you make this bread, and you don’t agree, then… well, I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. If you make this bread and it is anything less than completely out of this world then yes – it’s your fault. You did something wrong. Ok, of course I know that personal tastes are different but I’ve been fiddling around with bread and churning out “bad stuff” for so long now that I thought I would be destined to buying my bread forever. I can’t even remember the last time we bought bread in fact. Ok, of course – I don’t have the eons of experience that bakers have; I don’t have the special equipment and flours to make fancy breads but I’ve stumbled across what is, in my mind, the best bread ever. At least until I make a better one.
So – what’s so awesome about this bread? The inside is soft – soft, soft, soft, but not too soft. Because it’s 50% semolina flour it’s not overly squidgy and pappy. The semolina is also more coarse than regular flour which makes the bread easier to digest. It has a great crust and it makes awesome sandwiches and awesome toast. Additionally, and I don’t know why, or how, but it stays soft and fresh for ages. Don’t you hate it when you buy or make fresh bread and it’s stale after 2 days, or sometimes not even that? This is still soft and awesome for sandwiches after 4 days, maybe even 5. I didn’t (read: couldn’t) test it longer than that because someone ate it!
If you’re anything like me, when you see a recipe you think “Ooh, that would be awesome, but maybe I’ll add this, or remove that”. If you’re going to make this bread, and I urge you to make it, please – make it this way first. Follow the instructions to the letter because I’d love to see what other people think! Have a great Saturday 🙂
- 500g Plain white Flour
- 500g Fine ground Semolina Flour
- 2 tbsps Sunflower Oil (or similar)
- 1.5 tbsps dried, quick activating yeast
- 1.5 tbsps Granulated Sugar
- 1.5 tsps Salt
- 650 ml Warm water
- Start off adding the yeast and sugar to a deep bowl. Add 100 ml of warm water and, using a small whisk or fork, mix thoroughly. The yeast may clump – try and break up the clumps as much as possible. Set the bowl aside in a warm place for 5 minutes. Mix again to ensure no lumps remain and then return to the warm place and leave for about 15 minutes. After this time you should have some well “activated” yeast.
- While the yeast is activating add the flours, the salt and the oil to a large mixing bowl. Mix well, and when the yeast is ready pour in the remaining 550 ml of warm water and the yeast mixture. Mix well with the flour and when you have something resembling a dough turn out onto a floured surface. You may need some additional flour or water if for some reason you find your dough too wet/dry. Knead the dough for a good 10 minutes – flattening out and folding over to incorporate as much air in as possible.
- Once this is done, return the dough to the mixing bowl. Cover with a clean cloth and place in a warm place for about 1 hour. After this time the dough should have at least doubled in size. Turn out once again onto a flour surface and knead for 10 minutes, as last time – incorporating as much air into the dough as possible.
- Divide the dough up into 2 or 3 equally sized pieces. I like to make a tin loaf and a “boule” style loaf. If using a tin, rub the inside of the tin with a little butter and then dust with flour to ensure the bread doesn’t stick later. Push half of the dough into an appropriately sized loaf tin – and I mean really push. Smash it down into all the corners by pressing hard on the centre. If you like, make it slightly higher at the corners than at the middle. It will rise, a lot, anyway, so this is fine. The other piece, knead it around a bit to make it pretty and make a kind of round-topped squat cylinder and place on a baking sheet. Don’t make it too “boule” shaped as it will spread and flatten later. Make some cuts on top of both loaves, about 1.5 cms deep. This has the advantage of not only looking pretty but also helping you fix any dodgy bits which might rise strangely later.
- Cover with the clean cloth again and allow to rise for about 1 hour again.About 30 minutes from the end of this process, start to pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Uncover the bread and carefully place into the hot oven (don’t poke the dough… it will sink!). You’ll see that if it’s been well kneaded it can rise (especially the tin) even more, so ensure there is space above the loaf in oven. Bake for about 25 minutes, until starting to turn a rich golden brown before removing from the oven.
- The temptation will be there to tuck in immediately – try to resist and allow it to cool for 20 minutes or so. Remove from the tin and place on a wire rack before enjoying! I place a loaf in the freezer when it’s cool – it freezes really well 🙂