I arrived home from Russia a while ago now, and I haven’t posted for months on the ol’ blog. There’s a lot I should have posted, and I plan on doing it… promise!
I’ve been baking up a storm, much to the distress of those around me. I’ve been making all sorts, and I’ll post recipes once I’ve practised them a little more!
Today I want to let you in on a little secret. I love bread. You’d be forgiven for pointing out that this is no secret. In fact, there’s only one thing I dislike about bread – it just doesn’t last. One loaf is never enough, and that is definitely true for this caramelised red onion and cheddar loaf!
I like messing around in the kitchen, so I’m going to show you a step-by-step 8 strand bread plait, but feel free to skip this and just shape it into the loaves you want.
Disclaimer: Making this bread may result in the need to join CA (Carbs Anonymous).
I doubled this recipe, because one loaf was a gift, so don’t be alarmed when my pictures look like I’m opening up a small commercial bakery. The recipe is based on Paul Hollywood’s recipe, which can be found on the Good Food website.
500g Strong White Bread Flour
7g of Yeast (I like the little sachets – who doesn’t like ingredients that are pre-measured?!)
A pinch of Salt
A drizzle of Olive Oil
350g of Water
A handful of grated Cheddar Cheese
A loaded tsp of Caramelised Red Onion Chutney
Careful – those are exact measurements! Just kidding, Apart from the flour, yeast and water, take your mother’s advice and just do what you think is right.
First, mix your flour, yeast and salt together gently.
Measure out your water and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add to the flour and mix into a dough.
Add your cheese and chutney, mixing until it’s evenly spread throughout the dough.
Here’s where things get a little tricky. I want you to phone up your gym and I want you to tell them that you will no longer need your membership. This is a workout. Take all the energy you have and beat your dough within an inch of it’s life. Hold it above your head and throw it onto the counter. If it helps, imagine someone’s face. Once you’ve inflicted as much pain as possible (10-15 minutes), put your dough into an oiled bowl and cover with cling film.
Now call your gym back and apologise for your last correspondence. I’ve just remembered how much bread you’ll be eating tonight. Make a note to never take my advice again. Once you’ve spent roughly an hour (or the time it takes your dough to double in size) apologising to your gym, separate your dough into 8 balls, roughly the same size. I made 16 because I have no self control.
Now roll your 8 balls into long strips. Thank your lucky stars you aren’t making two loaves. Attach them at the top. Don’t worry, this can look a little rough! You’re going to tidy it up at the end.
Now listen carefully. Starting on the left, your strips are numbered 1-8. When you move a strip, it takes the number of it’s new location. For example, if I say “take strip 8 and put it over strip 1” strip 8 BECOMES strip 1 after you’ve moved it. Don’t make fun of strip 8 for his identity crisis.
Take strip 8 and go under strip 7 and then over strip 1.
Take strip 8 and put it over strip 5.
Take strip 2. Go under strip 3 and over strip 8.
Take strip 1 and put it over strip 4.
Take strip 7 and go under strip 6 and over strip 1.
I failed you, and I didn’t take a photo of this one!!
Repeat steps 2-5 until you’ve created your masterpiece.
The ends are going to look a little messy. You’re going to want to take the end off the plait and shape it a little.
Now leave your bread alone and preheat your oven to 200 degrees. You might want to tidy up a little too, if you’re anything like me!
While you’re trying to get flour off the tops of the cupboards (how DID it end up there?) your bread should go from this:
It should puff up quite considerably! Take a moment to photograph your efforts. You’re going to be proud. Embrace it. Draw the line at selfies.
Now whack it in that oven for about 20-25 minutes and wait for the magic to happen!
Now I want you to listen carefully. This bit is a little different to normal recipes. Usually you’re told to remove your goodies from the oven and leave to cool.
Don’t leave it to cool.
Cut off the end, add some butter and eat it.
Repeat until you’re all out of bread.