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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Herby Bread

It's the weekend. If it's not the weekend where you are, rest assured that it's probably the weekend somewhere. If that is simply impossible no matter where you are, you can take comfort in the fact that at some point it will be the weekend again.

OK, now that I've put that nonsense to bed, I want to show you something I love to do on the weekend, when I have the chance: Bread.

Don't be scared. I'm a lazy baker. I trust whole-heartedly in the stringent work ethic of the electric breadmaker. What I don't like about breadmakers is their complete and utter failure to present even a semblance of artisanship when they deliver up their final product.

Being inanimate may be somewhat to blame for this, but when you're dealing with a cook as fussy as me, there are certain standards I expect to be met. Let's just ignore that laziness comment for now.

Bread shouldn't just be a sustenance that gets us through the days. It should be a joy. If you think about how much bread you eat (gluten-intolerants are welcome to shake their heads in disgust at this point in time), why not make it yourself, and make it delicious?

With a breadmaker, all the hard work is done for you. Let the machine make the dough, then pull it out, let it rise, dress it up and slide it in the oven. Lovely stuff.

Mediterranean-style Herb and Garlic Bread

(Disclaimer: I've never actually been to the Mediterranean, so this could very well be a false claim. Nonetheless, it has olive oil in the recipe, so I'm sticking with it.)

Dough Ingredients:

300g Strong Flour
200g Semolina Flour
2T Breadmaker Yeast
1T Honey
1/2t Salt
280ml Warm Water
3T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
(Alternatively, you can use Garlic-Infused Olive Oil, and make sure you get some of the chunky stuff in there)

Place all ingredients in the pan of the Breadmaker and turn on to a dough cycle.
When the cycle is finished, pull out the dough and gently shape on a floured bench. Because of the olive oil, this bread will be slightly denser than usual. That's OK. We like that.
Place the dough in a oiled baking tray and put it somewhere warm to rise for one hour. I always use the Hot Water Cupboard. While it's doing its thing in there, chop up some more garlic and some fresh rosemary and thyme.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Take the risen dough and brush gently with more olive oil. Sprinkle with the garlic and herbs and bake for 20 minutes.
It should come out a bit denser than normal bread. Delicious eaten warm with butter melting through it, or for sandwiches or toast or to soak up soup or whatever. Mmmm.


Leah said...

I would like to try this recipe. What is "strong" flour - would that be just "plain" flour is good old Aussie terms?

Dan said...

Strong flour is High-Grade Flour, and has a high gluten content. This produces a better quality dough, with more elasticity. Much better for baking of all kinds. Alternatively, you can add gluten flour to plain flour, if you can get it (about 2T per Cup of flour).