bread

bread

photo Marina Oliphant

There is something deeply satisfying about making your own bread. Simply mix bread and water with yeast, then watch the miraculous transformation into a living thing. The act of kneading and shaping produces a dough that is silky, soft and elastic. It’s a wonderful tactile experience. Bread cannot be hurried, you must allow time for the dough to rise.  So take a moment, slow down, enjoy, then reap the rewards. Nothing beats the aroma of freshly baked bread, hot out of the oven. Even if you’ve never made your own bread, you only have to go into a bakery to know what I’m talking about.

So here are a few recipes to get you going. If you have an electric mixer with a dough hook, it will speed things up, but the great thing about bread is that you can use your hands. The focaccia recipe is basic –a good one to start with. You don’t have to worry about visions of perfectly shaped loaves, as it’s a simple flatbread, meant to be rustic.

The grissini are easy to make, too. Great for entertaining. Get the family involved, as the kids will enjoy rolling these out. Use the dough as your base and experiment with different flavours.

The dill and lemon flatbreads are fabulous for dips, a welcome change from boring biscuits. You can roll them out super thin with a pasta machine, but they also work using a rolling pin.

So start baking, and you’ll reconnect with one of life’s simple pleasures.

According to Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of The Bread Bible, “Bread is like life –you can never control it completely. Come to think of it, bread IS life”. Maybe there’s a lesson in there.

Marnie’s fruit and poppyseed grissini

These delicious grissini are like mini fruit breads, bursting with luscious fig and dates. Serve as part of a cheese platter, or as finger food with a glass of something sparkling.

500g ‘00’ bread flour

pinch sugar

1 ½ (one and half) tbsp instant yeast

2 tsp salt

¾ (three quarters) cup poppy seeds

6 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to brush grissini

300ml warm water

100g fig paste, warmed

8 medjool dates, finely chopped

1 tbsp fennel seeds

1-2 tsp cinnamon

prosciutto slices to serve

Preheat oven to 200C fan forced.

Place flour, sugar, yeast, salt and poppy seeds in the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment and mix on low speed. Add olive oil and water and knead for 5-7 minutes to form a smooth dough.

Place on an oiled tray and roll out to a rough rectangle shape, approximately 5 cm thick. Brush with oil and cover with cling film. Allow to rise for about 1 hour.

Spread warmed fig paste roughly all over the dough. Sprinkle over dates, fennel seeds and cinnamon. Fold the dough over to enclose. Cut the dough into three equal pieces. Cut each third into 10 (you will have 30 pieces of dough). Roll out each piece thinly into 20cm finger lengths. Place on baking tray, brush with oil and bake for 15 minutes, until golden. Cool on wire racks. Serve with prosciutto.

Makes 30.

Dill and lemon flatbreads with smoked ocean trout dip

photo Marina Oliphant

Inspired by Sally Clarke of Clarke’s bakery in London, you can make these flatbreads super thin with the aid of a pasta machine, but a rolling pin will also do the trick. I like them misshapen for a rustic look.

Flatbread:

300g ‘00’ bread flour

2 tsp dried yeast

4 tbs olive oil, plus extra for greasing and brushing

2 tbs chopped dill

zest of one lemon

sea salt to sprinkle

dip:

300g hot smoked ocean trout (or substitute smoked trout)

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2 tbsp crème fraiche

1 tbs chopped dill

salt and pepper to season

Preheat oven to 200C fan forced.

Place flour and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough attachment. Add oil and mix on low speed. Gradually add 150ml warm water. Continue to knead for 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Set aside in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Brush baking sheets with oil.

Punch the dough to knock out some of the air, then knead gently by hand, sprinkling with dill and lemon zest to incorporate. Cut the dough into 24 small walnut sized pieces.

Roll each piece through a floured pasta machine to make thin strips. (If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can use a rolling pin). Place on baking sheets and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, until golden and crisp. Cool on wire rack, then store in airtight container.

To make the smoked trout dip, simply remove the skin then flake the trout roughly with a fork, mix in lemon juice and zest, crème fraiche, dill and season with salt and pepper.

Makes 24 flatbreads.

Focaccia with olives and rosemaryphoto Marina Oliphant

A simple dough that can also be used for pizza bases. Perfect for beginners. Get adventurous and add your own toppings.

3 cups (400g) ‘00’ bread flour

2 tsp dried yeast

2 tsp salt

1 cup warm water

3 tbsp olive oil

½ (half) cup pitted black olives

fresh rosemary to sprinkle

sea salt to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 200C fan forced.

Place flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment and mix on low speed. Gradually add water and olive oil and continue to mix for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume, from 30 minutes up to an hour. Knock back the dough gently with your fist to remove some air. Knead again by hand for a few minutes. Cut the dough in half and place on two baking trays, flatten and shape into ovals. Use your fingers to make indents in the top of the dough, gently press in the olives and scatter over the rosemary. Allow the dough to rest again for 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake in oven until golden, approximately 15 minutes.

Delicious eaten warm.

Makes 2 focaccia.

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