It’s bread week on the Great British Bake Off – which just so happens to be my favourite week. In a double twist of fate the stars have aligned for me this week as my husband who won’t watch the bake off, also happens to be out for the evening, so I’ll actually get to watch it live too!
I love experimenting with different bread ideas and there’s not a week that goes by when I haven’t got a ball of dough proving in the kitchen. It really is true that the more you practice the better your bread will be, if you set yourself a goal of making a loaf a week by Christmas time you’ll be a confident bread maker. Start off with a basic white loaf and once you’ve mastered that then branch out to some flavoured breads and see how you get on.
I really can’t recommend baking bread enough, it’s incredibly therapeutic. Creating something spectacular from just a few basic ingredients is so satisfying. It’s also great value too – flour, water, yeast and salt are the basic ingredients you’ll need. Supermarket loafs are notorious for being crammed full of preservatives, added sugar, lots of salt and general nasties so making your own is a great way to ensure you’re not eating unnecessary processed foods. It really is a skill you’ll use for life. I would recommend investing in a stand mixer if you’re going to start a lot of baking; they are invaluable when baking bread. You don’t need a really expensive one; just a basic model will do for a beginner.
The recipe I decided to create this week is for a pull apart garlic butter loaf. This is a good one to try out for a beginner as it’s quite rough and ready and there’s no shaping to be done. It’s a basic white mixture that has the addition of delicious herby, garlic butter and some grated cheese too. What’s not to like? While I’ll admit this might not be the healthiest of breads, a little bit of an indulgent treat from time to time is definitely necessary plus I’d take a few chunks of this buttery loaf over a chocolate bar or a slice of cake any day of the week. Bread is definitely my treat of choice whether it be pizza, a square of salty, rosemary focaccia or a simple bacon sandwich I’m all about those carbs!
So make this week, week one of your exploration into bread and have a go at this loaf, you wont regret it. Baking is a great way to practice some mindfulness, enjoy the here and now and be rewarded with this beautiful loaf at the end of it.
If you’re an anxiety sufferer like me I really think you’ll enjoy the structure and control you’ll feel while weighing out your ingredients and getting your equipment ready. Start by creating a clean space in the kitchen, remove any clutter and with this feel you mind de-clutter too. Arrange all your ingredients in front of you before you begin, don’t rush or feel pressured, make sure you have enough time before starting a recipe. The aim is to relax, so don’t start a recipe if you haven’t got enough time to finish it.
Before you start take a few moments to breath deeply and relax, try to imagine and visualise the sense of achievement you’ll feel once the bread is finished. Picture yourself pulling it out of the oven and feeling a sense of pride, think about who you could share it with. If something goes wrong then don’t panic, this is about the experience more than the end result. Take your time and enjoy the doing, if it doesn’t work out perfectly then at the very least you’ll have an amusing story to tell and a lesson learnt for next time. I have made so many mistakes in the kitchen over the years but I don’t regret any of them as each mistake is a valuable lesson, and sometimes the mistakes have turned into the best recipes after all.
I hope you enjoy this recipe, if you do decide to have a go then don’t forget to share your recipe on Instagram and tag me in it too @bakingyoubetter. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing your creations, happy baking!
Tear & Share Garlic & Herb Loaf
Makes 1 very large loaf
FOR THE DOUGH
800g OO flour (sometimes called pasta flour)
480ml lukewarm water
1 ½ sachets fast action dried yeast
FOR THE GARLIC BUTTER
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp oregano
2 tbsp herbs, chopped (whatever you have in the fridge, I used parsley and chives)
50g grated Parmesan
1 tsp garlic granules
Make the dough. Put the flour, salt and yeast in a food mixer fitted with a dough hook (or in a bowl if making by hand) Add the water and mix until you have a smooth dough with no floury patches. Knead by hand or in the mixer for 8-10 minutes, until the dough looks smooth. Lightly oil the bowl and return the dough, then leave the dough covered with cling film for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
Melt the butter and mix with the crushed garlic, herbs and some salt and pepper. Brush a 2lb loaf tin (this size) (or use two smaller loaf tins if you don’t have one) generously with the some of the melted butter.
Gently knock the dough back with your fist and then tip out onto a lightly floured surface. Flatten out with your hands on a lightly floured surface until you have a large oval of dough. Now use your rolling pin too roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 50cm x 30cm. Cut using across 5 times and down 4 times with a pizza cutter so that you have 20 even squares. Brush with the garlic & herb butter then scatter on the oregano, garlic granules and the cheese.
Put the tin on its side and stack up the rectangles on top of each in the tin. Once filled turn back to the right side up, cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave until doubled in size, about an hour. Meanwhile heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
Remove the film and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown on top and firm to the touch.
Remove and brush with the rest of the butter (melting again if you need to) then once cool enough to handle dig in!!!