I’ve been baking a lot of bread recently, it’s not the strongest skill in my baking repertoire, but then again you have to practice to get better so that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
My housemates recently bought one of those part-baked garlicy stuffed bread and before it went into the oven we were admiring it through it’s packaging looking at it’s ingredients. I however was really tired from work and went to sleep while my housemates ate dinner accompanied by this bread. But before I did we decided we’d try to make our own version next time we were both off. So that’s what we set out to do.
We were going for a soft fluffy texture from the bread, without too much of a crust to it. So we set out looking through Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake for a bread with the texture that we were looking and we settled to modify that recipe and start our baking.
As for the fillings, well my housemate Jen, loves Jamie, so without further ado she opened up Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals and found the pesto recipe for a base to the stuffing. We chose some olives and sun-dried tomatoes followed by some good ol’ cheese. But we didn’t name it. Is there an italian name for stuffed bread? Do you know it? Or have a suggestion? Post it below!
So let’s get started!
Ingredients (makes one loaf, we doubled these quantities and made two, so you may see more than one loaf being prepared in the pictures)
For the bread
250g strong white bread flour
200ml water (cool)
1 tablespoon olive oil
semolina for dusting
For the pesto
1/2 clove garlic
75g parmesan grated cheese
1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes
bunch of basil leaves
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
To stuff with (we popped to the deli counter at tesco)
handful of sundried tomatoes
handful of black olives chopped
handful of green olives chopped
150g cheese (we used cheddar)
I don’t own a fancy mixer, so I do all my bread making by hand. It’s messy, but hey-ho!
- Pop the flour in a mixing bowl, put the salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast on the other. Mix all the dry ingredients together.
- Make a well and pour in the water
- With your hand in a claw like shape, knock the flour into the water and bring the mixture together until you have a rough dough and all of the flour is picked off the side of the bowl.
- Lightly flour your work surface with some flour and semolina and tip the dough onto it to start the kneading process.
- This dough is a wet dough, the kneading process is messy, but as you work the dough the gluten in the flour starts to take action and the dough becomes less sticky. So knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes, scraping it off the work surface throughout the process. You know it’s worked enough when you have a stretchy, but still wet, smooth dough.
- Oil a bowl and pop the dough in and cover with tea towel and leave to prove for an hour, or until it’s doubled in size.
Mean while, time to make the pesto (it’s easy, but delicious!).
- Put the pine nuts, oil, basil and parmesan into a blender and pulse until a paste starts to form.
- Scrap the sides of the blender down (when it’s switched off of course!) and then blend on high speed until you have a smooth mixture.
Back to the dough.
- Because we want an airrated bread ultimately, you need to be incredibly gentle with this dough from now onwards. Flour the work surface and add some semolina also.
- Gently stretch the dough out into a rectangle, being careful not to knock too much air out.
- Spread the pesto onto the middle of the rectangle and then sprinkle over the other fillings finishing with the cheese.
- Now it’s time to form the loaf. This was an experimental way of doing it…there probably are better ways of doing this, but we found this worked well.
- Fold one half over into the middle of the loaf, next fold the two shorter sides up/down and finally fold the second side into the middle. Using a couple of spatulas slide the dough onto a board, place an oiled baking tray over the top and quickly flip the loaf over.
- Leave to prove again for at least an hour, you want a dough that springs back when pressed slightly with your finger.
- When it’s ready, sprinkle with semolina and cut into the loaf with some scissors to expose the filling.
- Bake for approximately 30 minutes until it’s a golden brown colour and so is the underside. This is the best tip I can give you for baking bread. If the base is a golden brown colour the loaf is most likely baked correctly.
The oil in the cheese and the oil used in making the dough will make the, as this loaf cools the crust will soften up to. It’s a really soft texture and the bread should just tear apart.
Serve warm and enjoy.