I love bread. I love it so much that I eat it with pretty much every meal.
Luckily I work in an artisan bakery which means that there is pretty much always a delicious, handcrafted loaf on my dinner table.
Sometimes there is no bread left at the end of the day, and I am faced with the decision of buying bread from the supermarket or making my own. When time allows, I will always choose to make bread rather than buy a doughy, preservative laden, tasteless Loaf from the supermarket. It’s much more satisfying, much more delicious and so much better for your body.
I often feel like bread making is a task I don’t very much enjoy. I feel like it takes too long and the gratification is not instant enough for me, but a baker friend of mine asked me to compare it with baking a cake. I realised that bread is much less labour intensive and the finished product is often ready for consumption in less time than a cake would be. After that conversation I challenged myself to bake my own bread more. I’m still not very good at it but I’m making progress!
This is the kind of bake that my artisanal baking colleagues would probably turn their noses up at. But I like it because it is easy and fun to make and more importantly bloody delicious to eat. It’s a great Loaf to make with kids as it is very tactile and helps little hands get used to the motions of rolling and shaping dough. You can mix up the stuffing depending on what you are serving it with, but for this recipe I’ve chosen some classic fillings which you probably already have lurking in your fridge: Pesto, cheese and garlic butter.
For the dough:
- 300g of water
- 7g of yeast
- 500g of strong, white flour
- 15g of olive oil
- 10g salt
For the fillings:
- 100g of grated cheese (cheddar or mozzarella are good choices)
- 2 tbsp of Pesto
- Garlic butter, made by mixing 100g of butter with 2 cloves of minced garlic and a pinch of salt.
- Mix the dough either by hand or in an electric mixer by placing the water and yeast in the bowl, followed by the flour, salt and oil.
- Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. This should take around 10 minutes by hand or 7 in a mixer.
- Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and set aside somewhere warm for around 2 hours. The dough should double in size.
- When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured worker surface and divide into 18 equal portions. These will make up your dough balls.
- To fill the dough balls, use your hand to flatten each piece of dough and place a teaspoon of filling in the centre. Gather the edges up and squeeze them together to seal the filling in. Then, flip them over and roll into a ball shape using your hand. Put a different filling in each ball.
- Line a baking tin with parchment paper and place the dough balls inside. You can arrange them however you like so long as they are only slightly touching. Cover with cling film very lightly and set aside for 30 minutes to prove.
- Preheat your oven to 180°c or gas Mark 5.
- When the bread has proved, brush the top with oil and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until the dough balls are starting to turn golden brown on top.
- Serve whilst it is still hot from the oven.