Bread week? Bring it.
Bread week is always a weird one on The Great British Bake Off. Sometimes really great bakers can find bread just too difficult a challenge, and then end up going home. That’s why I’ve chosen something nice and easy for this week’s bake off challenge.
I love bread, even though it really doesn’t love me. Freshly baked bread is my nemesis – Katie had to shout at me to put down a roll of this bread because I had already had too much wheat that day. So when you combine it with pesto, dried tomatoes, mozzarella, and some prosciutto… it’s basically impossible to resist.
Yes, I slightly over-baked it. But going by this week’s GBBO, Paul would much rather that than be served up raw dough. The thought of baking bread for Paul Hollywood makes me want to die inside. I couldn’t cope with the stress.
Bread is pretty easy to make, as long as you don’t mind putting in the arm-work. The bread is going to need an initial knead of 5-10 minutes, and then another knead to knock it back a little later on. Plus, there is a lot of waiting around for the yeast to get off it’s backside and actually do something useful.
But – once you’ve made the dough, you get to have loads of fun by adding all the delicious toppings you like. Voila:
Full disclosure – I forgot to add the pesto. And it definitely was the worse for it. And don’t bother with the mozzarella, as it just melts away to nothing. Parmesan is all the cheese we need here!
The design itself is made by rolling the bread up length-wise into long sausage shape, and then chopping into eight individual little rolls that will all fit together to make the tear and share sections.
You will find it much easier to get the loaf out of the tin if you use one with a removable base, or with spring-form sides. There’s no need to grease or line the tin though.
So, next week is… BATTER WEEK? What on Earth have you done BBC? Will I finally get to make some Churros? There’s only one place to find out. In the meantime, get sharing some bread.
- 400g (2½ cups) strong white bread flour
- 3 tablespoons caster sugar (US granulated sugar)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 7g (2¼ teaspoons) fast action dried yeast
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 225ml (1 cup) warm water
- 100g (3.5oz) pesto
- 150g (5.3oz) semi-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 50g (1.75oz) grated parmesan cheese
- 4 slices of proscuitto or parma ham, torn
- A bunch of fresh basil leaves, torn
- Salt and pepper
- Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Make a dip in the middle, and add the warm water and oil. Mix the flour mixture and water together to create a dough. If it's a little too sticky, add a bit more four. Too dry? Add a little more water.
- Dust the worktop with flour, and scoop the dough onto it. Knead well for 5-10 minutes. Once the dough is nice and smooth, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel, and leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour (or until it has doubled in size).
- Once the dough has risen, you are going to want to knock it back, by kneading it for a minute. You will then need to roll the dough out into a rectangle, using a rolling pin on a floured surface.
- Spread the dough rectangle with the pesto, and then sprinkle evenly with the tomatoes, cheese, ham, and basil leaves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then roll up into a long sausage, being careful not to spill the filling.
- Cut the sausage into 8 slices, and arrange these in a 20cm (8 inch) circular baking tin. Cover the tin with a tea towel, and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour. Fifteen minutes before the bread has finished its second rise, heat the oven to 220°C / 430°F (200°C fan).
- Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave to cool slightly in the tin, and then remove and serve warm.
- The bread will stay fresh for 2-3 days if kept in an airtight container, although will always taste best on the day it is baked.