Sun dried tomato bread

I haven’t baked bread for ages, over a year at least. Returning to part time work has given me a little more time and this week I put that to use and made a hearty sausage casserole (post coming soon!) accompanied by some nice fresh bread. The Other Half reckons this is the best bread I’ve made yet. It was based on a recipe from Bread by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno.

Ingredients:

3 tsp dried yeast
150ml cold water
500g bread flour
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp chopped sun dried tomato

This bread uses what the authors refer to as a sponge method to start. Pour the yeast into the water and stir. Place the flour and salt in a bowl and mix, make a well in the centre and add the yeasted water. Stir in just enough of the flour to make a toothpaste consistency paste. Cover and leave for an hour.

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After the hour the ‘sponge’ should be frothy and risen, you can see the difference in the photos above. Now stir the sun dried tomatoes into the froth and then mix together with the flour to start to form a dough. I have made bread by hand but the Other Half bought me a Kmix with a dough hook so I put the dough in there for 5 to 10 minutes on a low speed. Often the dough feels too stiff at the start but with the dough hook it often warms up and starts to get sticker so be careful about adding water until the latter stages. You should be left with a ball of dough, you can tell it’s ready if you prod it with a floured finger and the dough bounces back.

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Cover again (I prefer using clingfilm but a clean tea towel will do) and leave for an hour until it has doubled in size. My dough was threatening to explode out the bowl at this point so I failed to take a photo! Knock the air out and then put the dough on a very lightly floured surface and ‘chafing’ the dough. This is basically putting light pressure on the dough to form a ball. Leave to rest for 10 minutes and then shape into a round loaf. Place on a lightly oiled baking tray, cover again and leave until doubled in size again, about 45 minutes.

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Bake in a preheated oven (Gas Mark 6) for 40 minutes, check to see if cooked by tapping the underneath, if it sounds hollow it’s done, if not bake for another 5 -10 minutes and repeat. As I don’t like a tough crust on my bread I place a tray of hot water in the bottom of the oven so it steams, this helps soften the crust.

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