So let's start with the bread I made for the Essex Food and Drink Festival. Yes, the one I was bragging about all over my Facebook and Twitter pages, the one I won with.
I almost didn't enter the competition on Sunday . I got home tired and hot on Saturday, and really couldn't face baking again. But I didn't sleep well (it was a very hot night that night) and I woke at 4.30. Oh well, why not. Let's give it a go.
So I had from just before 5 until 9 when I wanted to leave. 4 hours - exactly the same amount of time as the Bake Off competitors had. How did I do it? I sacrificed flavour in the bread for flavour in the additions.
I made the bread using tips from Dan Lepard in Short and Sweet. I added 3 TIMES as much yeast as I would usually. I added yoghurt and vinegar to compensate for the loss of depth of flavour due to the shortened proof times caused by the extra yeast. And I baked dark so that the bread wouldn't collapse due to the fast, hot proof. And I only just got it made and cooled in time. It was still warm when I wrapped it to take to the Festival, and that took a little over three hours for cooking and an hour for cooling.
The bread dough itself had NO flavour in it, but truthfully it didn't matter. The bread was to be a tear and share Cheese loaf for the competition, and so the dough was spread with pesto and grated Jarlsberg and Cheddar cheeses, then rolled up before being cut and twisted. So any loss of flavour in the dough won't really be noticed, as the main flavour is from the additions.
But if I did it again? I would use a poolish. I would chill the dough more to make it easier to handle (let me tell you it was a horrendous job rolling and shaping the still slightly warm frothy dough. Much easier to make this with a slow proof in the fridge ) and I would probably use my new love, my semi-brioche dough.
But if you would like to bake with the kids, three to four hours is probably as much as you could hope to keep them in one place ... (though they can nip outside for a quick game of footie whilst the dough is proving and the loaf is cooking)
so here you are, give it a go and let me know what you think:
500g white bread flour
300g milk (either scald milk to boiling point then let it cool to no more than 32 degrees, or use warm water and milk powder.)
50g melted and cooled unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cider or white wine vinegar
1 heaped tablespoon Total Classic Greek yoghurt
1.5 tsps salt
1 heaped teaspoon dried mixed herbs (I used Italian herb blend)
4 teaspoons instant yeast
half a jar of pesto
2-3 handfuls of grated cheese - I used Jarlsberg and cheddar but use any cheese you have around.
One egg beaten with a little salt and water.
- Mix all the ingredients together to make a rough dough. Cover and leave in the bowl for 10 minutes.
- Either knead in a stand mixer for around 6 minutes or knead by hand ( in which case I suggest Dan Lepard's short kneads every 10 minutes 3 times in the first half hour of proving rather than a full 10 minute knead, but the choice is yours)
- Remove from the bowl and fold the dough onto itself a couple of times to make a smooth ball. Oil the bowl slightly and replace the dough into the bowl turning it over in the oil so that the smooth side is uppermost.
- Cover with cling film or a clean shower cap and allow to bulk proof for around an hour until very light and puffy.
- Pop it in the fridge for about 20 minutes to firm up slightly and relax. If you have more time, leave it in the fridge for an hour or two, it will make rolling it out a LOT easier.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and turn onto a lightly floured work surface. Put the oven on now (gas mark 7 or electric equivalent) so it will be very hot by the time the dough proves for the 2nd time.
- Shape lightly into a square and roll out into a rectangle about 30 x 40 cm. If the dough fights you when you roll it just let it sit for a moment and rest and then roll out, the resting relaxes the gluten and makes it easier.
- Spread with the pesto and about 2 thirds of the cheese.
- Roll up from the longer end into a fat sausage and curve round into a ring. Put it onto a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Using a sharp knife, cut slots into the outer sides of the ring, making sure not to cut right through to the middle. Turn each slice over on its side to show the filling.
- Brush over with egg wash (break an egg into a cup, add a little water and salt and beat to mix all together).
- Leave the ring at room temperature to roughly double in size, about half an hour to 45 minutes.
- Brush again with egg wash and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
- Bake for around 40 -45 minutes until firm and golden brown. Lift the bread slightly from the parchment and have a peek underneath, it should be a good golden brown underneath as well as on top.
- Remove from the baking sheet using two fish slices, and cool on a rack.