My intention for making my own bread is the same as with all my cooking, which is having control over the ingredients I am using. When it comes to bread this is not much of an ask as the only requirements are flour, yeast, salt and water. When buying the best flour, and using your precious time to mix, knead and shape, one comes to appreciate the value of a slice of bread so much more.
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We must remember bread freezes — slice it beforehand and help yourself as needed. A bag of breadcrumbs can add that finishing touch to the top of a dish, and homemade croutons for soup or salad can take them from lunch to dinner.
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For pizza, flat bread and frying pan bread, the dough can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. So with a bit of forward planning you will spend less time in the kitchen and produce some impressive results. If the thought of making bread with yeast is something you fear but would love to give it a go, here is your chance.
This recipe will make one large loaf, or you can keep some dough back to make a pizza and make a slightly smaller loaf. If you are making it by hand do think about doubling the quantities double quantities are not good for your domestic mixer and making two loaves and putting one in the freezer. You will be surprised how handy having a bit of dough will be when planning a meal. In a large mixing bowl mix the flour, yeast and salt together. Next add in most of the water hold a little back and mix well with a wooden spoon to form a dough.
Continue mixing until the dough has come together and the bowl is clean. If your dough is a little dry add the remaining water and if it is a little sticky add a little more flour. Generously flour your work surface, and turn the dough out on to it. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until it is soft, springy and clean. You might need to sprinkle a little flour as you go if the dough is sticking to your hands or surface.
Your hands should be clean of dough as you work. Alternatively you can put all the ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on a low speed using the dough hook. Or you can leave it overnight covered with cling film.
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Once the dough has doubled and is light with a few little bubbles on top, tip it out on to a floured surface, give it a quick knead and shape it into a round ball and place it on a floured baking sheet. Dust it with flour I like to use a handful of brown flour here as it gives the loaf a nice colour and leave to rise again — this should take from 30 to 45 minutes depending on the time of year. Do this 15 minutes before the bread is ready to go in the oven.
Check the bread for doneness by tapping the bottom of the loaf; it should sound hollow. If not give it another few minutes. Let the loaf cool on a wire rack. Pizza dough Follow the recipe above for Good Things bread until the end of point four.
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Oh, I love and hate this pizza altogether. One Friday evening, before I opened my cafe and restaurant, I went to the fridge to see what I could put on a pizza for myself and the girls. I was too tired to make tomato sauce but I had a bag of spinach and an unpasteurised Durrus cheese, so decided to give something new a go and see what the reaction would be like from my fiercest critics, who were then aged 10, six and three.
However, our customers would demand its return so it would reappear the following week. I dedicate this recipe to Robert Putz, who was my best pizza customer ever, and always phoned in his order before he left home so he would not have to wait! A pizza oven is on my wish list! Ingredients Makes two large pizzas, enough for four people. Roughly g dough at room temperature Fine brown flour for rolling large handfuls of roughly chopped large-leaf spinach, stalks removed and finely chopped 12 thin slices Durrus cheese about g with rind removed Salt and pepper Freshly-grated nutmeg Olive oil.
Heat your oven to its hottest and pre-heat two flat baking trays. This is essential for a crispy base. Divide the pizza dough in half, and roll each piece very thinly using the fine brown flour to dust the worktop.
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Place on the hot baking tray, top with the spinach and chopped stalks. Season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg.
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Drizzle with olive oil and bake in the hot oven for minutes until the base is golden and crispy and the cheese has melted. If you can't get Durrus cheese use a strong semi-soft cheese, preferably unpasteurised as the flavour is better for cooking. This is so handy when you would like to have some nice warm bread to mop up supper with, and it will all happen while you are heating up some leftovers.
This works best on a gas hob as your pan will get extra hot. Bring the dough to room temperature before rolling. When the pan is smoking hot, place the dough in it, and as it chars press the dough down with a palate knife or the back of a fish slice to help it to cook evenly.
Check the underneath for doneness — you are looking for a nice charred look but making sure the dough is cooked all over. This should take between three to five minutes depending on thickness. Turn the dough over and cook the other side as above, and make sure you eat it while still warm. This bread is ideal with anything, but especially good with mezze.