I’ve been watching a lot of Great British Bake Off recently and decided to get a bit creative with my own baking. We had some strong white bread flour in the cupboard, and rather than just follow the recipe on the back for an unimaginative white loaf (which I did use as the base recipe – credit to Sainsbury’s!), I wanted to make it a bit more interesting. You could really add whatever you wanted to the dough – courgette and pepper would work very well too. I went for mushroom and onion which ended up having a subtle but delicious flavour. The only thing that went wrong was I didn’t add quite enough salt, but that’s just an excuse to bake it again!
Makes one loaf
500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
25g butter, plus extra for frying
2 tsp salt (I used garlic salt)
2 tbsp sugar
15g dried yeast (or fast action if you have it)
Half a red onion
4 chestnut mushrooms
A handful dried porcini mushrooms
1 clove garlic
Ground black pepper
A little vegetable oil
1. Very finely chop the onion, mushrooms and garlic.
2. Soften in a little butter on a low heat for around five minutes. Season with pepper and leave to cool.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the yeast according to the packet instructions (I dissolved the sugar in 150ml of warm water and added the yeast, stirred, and left to activate for 15 minutes until it had a thick layer of foam on the surface). In a separate jug, soak the porcini mushrooms in 150ml of boiling water.
4. In a large mixing bowl, add the butter to the flour and using your fingertips mix together. The flour should resemble breadcrumbs when the butter is properly mixed in – make sure there are no large lumps left.
5. Add the salt and the cooled mushroom and onion mixture. Mix well.
6. Gradually add the yeast mixture and then the porcini stock (you may not need to use all the liquid so add it very slowly) and mix well between each addition. When the dough is starting to form you can begin to use your hands (I use a wooden spoon to begin with just to save on the mess!). If you add a little too much water and the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour.
7. When the dough has formed a ball, place onto a floured surface and knead well for around ten minutes.
8. Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with oiled cling film. Leave to rest in a warm place for around an hour.
9. After an hour, knead the dough again on a floured surface. This time return the dough to an oiled loaf tin and leave to rest, covered in cling film again, for a further half an hour.
10. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas mark 6. Score the top of the loaf and dust with a little flour.
11. Place the loaf tin in the oven and bake for half an hour, checking after around twenty minutes. To check whether the bread is cooked, carefully remove it from the loaf tin and tap the bottom. It should sound hollow inside. If it doesn’t quite sound hollow, return the bread to the oven for a further 2-3 minutes, checking again after. Remove from the oven and the loaf tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Enjoy sliced and with a spread of butter, or use it to make a sandwich with a difference!