- Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and add the sugar. Stir together and then stir in the yeast as well. Make a little well in the centre.
- Measure out 300 ml tepid water ina measuring jug. I usually use two thirds cold water from the tap, and then the other third from a recently boiled kettle. It needs to be warm, but not hot to the touch: you should be able to comfortably stick your fingers in it.
- Pour the olive oil/melted butter into the well in the flour and then add most of the water. Using your hands, mix the flour and the liquid together, stirring and lifting until they start to come together into a soft dough. It shouldn't be too sticky, but it should not be too dry, either: slightly moist to the touch and nice and soft. If it feels too dry and floury add a little more water. Add a very small amount of flour if it feels very sticky. Sprinkle a very small amount of flour on a worksurface.
- Turn the dough out onto the floured work surface. Now it is time to knead the dough (yayyyy.). You need to do this for roughly about 10 minutes. If you have never kneaded before...don't worry, it's not difficult to master at all. Pin the end of the dough nearest you down with one fist and then take hold of the other end of the dough with your other hand. Keeping the side nearest to you pinned down, stretch the other end of the dough and then fold it in on itself and gather into a ball. Slam it down hard on the surface. Repeat this process over once again - try to settle into a nice rhythm. ;)
- After 10 minutes or so, your dough should feel smooth, supple and elastic. Oil a clean bowl with some olive oil. Roll the dough into a smooth al and place in the bowl. Cover with greased clingfilm.
- Now it's time for your dough's first rising. :) leave it in a warm, draught free spot for about 1 1/2 - 3 hours, depending on how warm the day is. I usually pop mine on the table in the conservatory on a sunny day, or in my kitchen, or by the fire or the radiator if it's cold. It should have doubled in size when it's ready and feel inflated and springy if you gently prod it with your fingertip.
- Line a big baking tray with baking paper. Give the risen dough a big punch with your fist to deflate the air. Then scoop it out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead lightly for about 2 minutes.
- Gather the dough into a smooth ball, rolling it over and over on the work surface so the sides are smooth and silky. Plump the dough into a roughrugby ball shape. Place on the tray.
- Cover with greased clingfilm again and leave to rise until it has risen once again and have doubled in size. Be very careful when you life the trays as the risen dough will be very fragile and it is very important you don't knock out any air at this stage!
- Preheat the oven to 210 c/190 c fan.
- remove the cling film. Dust the bbloomer with flour.
- Bake for about 20 mins, until the bloomer is golden brown, risen and cooked. Tap its base an listen for a hollow sound - if it sounds hollow it is ready. remove from the oven once cooked and place on a wire rack to cool.
- If you like your bread crust seductively soft, wrap the bloomer in a clean tea towel and then place on a wire rack to cool. If you prefer a crisp crust, it helps to put a deep roasting tin at the bottom of the oven before baking, so that steam is created.
- The bread is best eaten within 24 hours of baking, but in the rare event of there being any leftovers, you can easily freeze any remaining pieces/rolls in tightly-sealed freezer bags; taking them out and heating through in a microwave/preheated oven as required. ;) Or alternatively, leftover bread makes very yummy toast when left overnight! :) xxx
At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...
I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)