Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Rustic loaf

Bread is great to bake.  2 simple ingredients can go a long way.....water and flour!  I mean come on!  Flour. And water! 
Once your cupboard has some good strong flour you can make some yummy crispy breads and doughs.

Making bread doesnt just have to mean one kind of bread.  It can be so versatile and most importantly fun to experiment.

When we go on holidays that yummy bakery smell gets me every time.  One of the first things I pick up in a shop abroad will be some crusty rustic bread (along with fresh juicy tomatoes, olive oil and wine!)

In countries like Spain, Italy and Greece, bread is usually just part of their meal like potatoes are to Irish tables!  In Spain they call this bread "pan rustica".
This crusty rustic is so simple to make and is exactly what im talking about.
Can be enjoyed many ways from dipping in soups, smothered in butter or as my favourite.... ripped up, drizzled in olive oil and ate as a tapa with olives, cheese, tomatoes and some wine.

A starter dough should be used for the proper recipe. It ferments over 24 hours and goes as follows:
- Pour 150ml warm water into a bowl and stir in 1tsp caster sugar (the sugar is what the yeast feeds on)
-Lightly stir in 3tsp fast-action dried yeast and leave in a warm place for 10 minutes or until a beige foam floats on the surface
- Stir in 125g strongwhite flour to make a thick paste, then cover and leave at room temperature for 24hrs.  It will then have slightly fermented.           

Today however i skipped this starter step and went straight to the next step.  It will not however rise as big as if you would use the starter dough.
Here's the next step:
-pour 200ml warm water into bowl and stir in 1tsp caster sugar.  Lightly stir in 1tsp dried yeast and leave for about 10 minutes until again a beige foam floats on the top.
-In a bowl stir 225g sieved strong white flour and 1tsp salt together.  Make a well and add the water yeast mix, the starter dough and 1tbsp good olive oil.  Mix with a wooden spoon and then using your hands bring the dough together.
-Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for 10minutes until smooth and elastic.....VERY IMPORTANT!  Do not add too much extra flour as it will only make the dough too dry.  Leave for about an hour in an oiled bowl covered in cling film to rise to double size.
- Next, line a baking tray with baking paper and dust with flour.  Topple the dough onto the tray, stretch it gently, fold each end in and stretch it again.  Do this 3 times.  This will achieve that holey inside texture.
-Shape the dough to shape you desire (bearing in mind it will double in size again and rise), make 3 slanted slits in the top and leave again to rise for another 45-60 minutes.
-Bake in a preheated 240 degree C oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and crusty.  You will know it's ready also when the base sounds hollow when tapped.

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