As all foodies know, baking bread is more than preparing a delicious loaf. It’s part recipe, part artistic interpretation. Homemade, freshly baked bread is one my favourite things to prepare. I love discovering new recipes and tweak them to get an even more delicious result… some poppy seeds here, maybe some cinnamon there? The possibilities are endless!
Bread is an obvious breakfast staple but I think it’s the perfect app for a dinner party, lunch or even casual get together.
Ok, hear me out!! There are fewer things more impressive than making your own bread, especially for a party. People will think you’ve gone all out, when in fact you messed around in the kitchen for about 15 minutes and spent the next few hours watching Breaking bad with curlers in her hair until about 20 minutes before they arrive.
When I’m pressed for time I don’t pull out my bread recipes or all kinds of different types of flours. I get my ready to use bread mix. Super easy to use bread mixes come with all of the ingredients in correct proportion so no fiddling around with yeast. With a basic rustic bread mix you can prepare a large variety of breads simply by adding different ingredients and spices.
Here is a recipe for one of my top party pleasers:
Cheesy Garlic Bread
– 500 g of rustic bread mix (it usually comes in 1kg packs)
– 300 ml warm water
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 2 cloves of garlic, minced
– 2 tsp garlic powder
– 1 tbsp butter
– black pepper
– 3 tbsp grated cheese ( mozzarela, gouda work well)
1. Line a baking sheet with non-stick parchment paper.
2. Put the bread mix in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the olive oil, 100 ml of the water and mix with a fork. Keep adding water a little bit at time and mix using your hands until a shaggy, but not sticky, dough forms. Careful, as you might not need all of the water. Turn out the dough on a floured surface and knead until dough is soft and stretchy* and does not stick to the surface, about 5 minutes.
3. Roll the dough into a ball, sprinkle with flour and put it in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave the dough in a warm place to proof for about 1 hour, or until id doubles in size.**
4. In a small microavable bowl put the butter, olive oil, garlic and garlic powder. Heat for 30 seconds or until the mixture starts to bubble. Set aside.
5. When dough has risen (Ooooh the fun part!), punch it down , and knead for about 2-3 minutes. Using your hands*** stretch out the dough on the prepared baking tray to form a rough 25 – 40 cm rectangle, about 1 cm thick. With a pastry brush, spread the olive oil and garlic mixture all over the top of the dough. Sprinkle with cheese and season with oregano and pepper. Let dough proof for another 35 minutes until it doubles in size.
final rising stage
6. Heat your oven to 250ºC/480ºF. Put the baking tray in the oven and lower the temperature to 200ºC/390ºC. Bake for 8- 10 minutes until edges are golden and cheese starts to bubble. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.
* To test if dough had been kneaded enough, poke a hole in it with your finger: if the hole maintains it’s shape and doesn’t close, that’s enough.
** For optimal rising: pre-heat your oven on the lowest temp possible (30ºC, 80ºF); turn it off and let dough rise inside.
*** Try to resist using a rolling pin to stretch out dough. It turns out flatter somehow, and doesn’t have the rustic look.
Rustic feel: lay the bread on a large wood cutting board, and slice it into squares at the table.