The other day I made perhaps THE MOST AMAZING bread I’ve ever made. Unfortunately the recipe I started from was awful and made flour soup rather than dough, so I improvised a lot. I made it again today so I could write up the recipe for future awesomeness.

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Makes: 2 medium sized loaves, or 4 single (large) serving baguettes.

Ingredients:

575g strong white flour
1 7g sachet of yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons oil leftover from jars of sundried tomatoes (if none available, use olive oil)
75g olives (approx 25), halved
350ml warm water (just above body temp)
Dash of olive oil
Handful of coarse cornmeal

Method:

(This is mostly written out in a way so my bf can understand it. You can of course knead the bread by hand or make other changes such as rising in the fridge overnight. Also, if you’re not my bf you won’t get killed in the face for making a mess. At least, not by me.)

1) Put all the ingredients into the large bowl for the mixer. Mix, using the dough hook, for 10 minutes, on speed setting number 2. The dough should be solid and slightly sticky, leaving the sides of the bowl mostly clean, but sticking if left to touch the surface for more than a second or so.

2) Turn out dough onto a floured surface. Put the dough hook into warm water to soak IMMEDIATELY so it’s easy to clean later. Use a little flour to rub off any dough that has stuck to the bowl and add it to the lump of dough, and knead a little so you can form it into a ball. Pour a dash of olive oil into the bowl and rub it around with your hand, making sure to get right to the top of the bowl to allow for growth as it rises. Put your ball of dough back into the bowl and turn it over a few times until it’s nicely coated in oil.

3) Cover with cling film and leave in the airing cupboard for an hour, or until doubled in size.

4) Turn dough out onto floured surface, and punch down, then form into loaves/batons. Squish the dough out into a rectangle, oriented lengthways in front of you. Fold the bottom 3rd up, then the top 3rd down, and pinch the seam closed. Turn over and squish with your hands until it looks like a pretty shape. If you want to be really posh you can use a very sharp knife to make slits in the top.

5) Put a silicone baking sheet onto a metal baking tray, and sprinkle a handful of cornmeal over the baking sheet. Place bread on top, and cover with oiled clingfilm (lay clingfilm on cabinet, pour a couple of teaspoons of olive oil on, rub in with your hand, then invert and place over the bread).

6) Preheat oven to 200C. Leave bread for 20 minutes or until it doubles in size again. Put it in the airing cupboard to do this if the kitchen is cold, otherwise it’ll be fine left out on the counter. If any olive oil drips off the cling film onto my clean sheets in the airing cupboard I will kill you in the face.

7) Once the oven is hot and the dough is risen, remove the clingfilm and put it in the oven on the top shelf. Chuck half a mug full of cold water onto the bottom of the oven and immediately close the door. The steam makes the crust extra nice and crusty while leaving the inside moist. Cook for 15-25 minutes depending on the size of loaves you made. The bread is ready when it has a fairly dark crust, and sounds hollow when you turn it upside down and tap it.

8) Put on wire cooling rack for as long as you can bear, then EAT ALL THE BREAD. Once it’s cool, wrap in a clean teatowel to stop it going stale.

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All the stuff in the bowl

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The mixer doing its job

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Dough ball ready to go into the airing cupboard

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After rising

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After making into loaves, ready to stand for a while before baking

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Out of the oven. The 3 on the left are ready to eat, the one on the right was cooked for 10 minutes, and is waiting to cool before being frozen, will attempt to finish cooking from frozen sometime to see if I can have fresh bread whenever I want with no effort.