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Stuff of life

I freaking love bread.

And don’t wave that bloody awful pre-sliced, plastic-bagged, white wet foam near me, thank you very much. Get stuffed. I’m talking about bread. That shit is good for nothing but…well, I was going to say feeding the ducks, but now that I think of it, give the ducks something decent for Chrissake.

Bread. Naan, tortillas, focaccia; pull-aparts, rye rolls, pumperknickel; I love it all. I love brown, rye, multigrain, seed, and white breads. I love yeasted and quick breads; I love brioche and soft baps, I love baguettes and crunchy-crust, open-crumbed no-knead breads.

So I’ve been experimenting! As I’ve mentioned in the past, one of the hardest things to get right is a sturdy, fine-crumbed sandwich loaf for everyday deliciousness. And I stick by that assertion and the dedicated practice it requires: but sometimes you gotta play around, you know? So when I was invited to morning tea and asked to bring something savoury, I seized the day. Carpe diem! Carpe panis! Sundried tomato, roast garlic and rosemary pullapart. Awwww hellzyeah.

Before I give you the recipe, I have to say: once you start experimenting with bread, you feel like you have found a new world. Suddenly I want to try making sesame seed and pumpkin breads; preserved lemon and dill breads; breads with chunks of caramelised onion and feta. I want to try cinnamon, nut and sultana breads…ooh, baby. There is too little time in my life for all the breads I want to try making. Stay tuned.

Man I Wish I Had Some Right Now Sundried Tomato, Roast Garlic and Rosemary Bread

Yield: 2 loaves

For the dough, you’ll need (knead! hah!):

  • 500g white bread flour
  • 500g wholemeal bread flour
  • 700mL warm water
  • 3 tsp dried yeast
  • 5 tsp salt

For the flava-flav, you’ll need:

  • Many many sundried tomatoes, finely chopped, plus a few tablespoons of the oil they were floating in
  • Big fat bunch of rosemary, finely chopped
  • Two heads (heads, not cloves) garlic, roasted until tender and squishy,then cooled and finely chopped or mashed

Don’t skimp on the flavourings! When I make this again, I’ll double them.

Mix your flours, yeast and salt, then add the warm water. Add about half of your tomatoes, rosemary and garlic and knead vigourously until your dough reaches the windowpane stage of gluten development. The smell should be driving you crazy with tummy-lust.

Leave to rise until doubled in size: about 20-30 minutes. Fold into thirds, rotate 90 degrees, fold into thirds again, flip over and leave for about 40 minutes. Mix the rest of your tomatoes, garlic and rosemary together with the oil from the tomatoes and allow to sit while the dough rises. When the dough has doubled again, it’s time to shape! Halve your dough.

I tried making a pullapart loaf by cutting one loaf’s worth of dough into lots of little bits and then brushing them generously with the oil/flavourings, then squishing back together as I piled them into the loaf tin. It didn’t do much, though: the dough was pretty vigourous and over the course of the final rise, it just reabsorbed all the separate sections into one very tasty but very cohesive loaf.

The other loaf I plaited: divide the dough into three sections and roll into tight, fat snakes. Brush generously with oil/ flavourings and then plait loosely: I did mine in a loaf tin, but I think you could probably do it on a flat tray as well, though it may spread outwards a bit more. Pour any remaining oil/flavourings over the top and put the loaves aside for their final rise (about 20-30 minutes for mine).

bwaup!

Bake at 200 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until the loaf looks crusty and sounds hollow when tapped. You may want to slide the loaves out of their tins for the last 5-10 minutes, to let their bottoms get crispy. Love me a crispy bottom, yessir.

Ideally, you should let the loaves cool before you cut them, but frankly the smell will be triggering some pretty intense feelings in you. I recommend tearing them apart with your hands and devouring with a delicious soft cheese or some really good oil.

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