I am feeling a little lazy today, I just cooked and polished off a massize fry up, so rather than write up a full bread recipe I have just cut and pasted the bread section from the book I am currently writing, the essential details are all still there.

There is simply one basic recipe here and you can use it to make any number of different breads. I’m going to use ordinary plain flour in the recipe I give you here but if you want brown bread use brown flour or wholemeal flour for wholemeal bread. Pretty easy so far right?

The following recipe will make 2 good loaves of bread, 2 foccacia breads or about a dozen rolls depending on what size you want them.

1KG of plain flour (it comes in 1kg packs)

30grms of honey (roughly a decent size table spoons worth if you don’t have a scales)

30grms of salt

21grms of yeast (used dried yeast as it comes in 7grm packets so just use 3 of them)

650mls of tepid water (you’re going to use this in 2 halves so your best bet is to measure out 325mls in a jug and then microwave it for 20secs to make it tepid).

Ok the first thing you want to do is pour the flour out onto a table, if your table has those joins where it can be folded or extended then it’s a good idea to cover them with selotape  before you start to make cleaning up easier. Pour the salt onto the flour and then make a well in the centre all the way down to the table; this will also help mix the flour and salt. Add the honey and yeast to the tepid water and mix it thoroughly then pour it all into the middle of the well. Using your hand start to work the flour into the water from the edges of the well until all the water is absorbed. This should realistically have reduced the thickness of the flour walls by half. Now microwave the second half of the water and begin to add this to the well. Don’t add it in one go as every single bag of flour has a different absorption level so add it kind of one fifth at a time so you can judge it easier. Continue to work the flour until it starts to come into a ball of rough looking dough. You may need to add a little extra water if it feels dry or you may have some left over when you get to this stage. The more you do this the better you will get a judging it. Now you need to work the dough to develop the flour. Use the heel of your hand to work the ball of dough down flat to about a third of its original thickness. Then fold it back on itself and repeat the process for about 5mins, you have to really lean into this to make it work otherwise your breads going to taste fucking awful and very heavy. Once this is done form the dough back into a ball and make 3 or 4 slashes with a knife across the top. Then place it on a tray and allow it to rest (or prove to call it by the correct term) for about 40mins till it doubles in size. This works better if you cover it loosely with cling film.

Once this has happened pop the dough back on the table, it’s a good idea to flour the table and your hands before you start this bit (that means you really need and extra bag of flour handy but luckily it’s dirt cheap). Now cut the dough in half (or smaller pieces if you want rolls). It’s now time to decide what kind of bread you want to make, if its ordinary batch loaves then this is what you do.

First you have to knock the dough back which means knocking the air out of it. Start by punching it, its not strictly necessary but its fun, then work the dough as you did earlier for about 5mins. You can now shape the dough into a loaf and place it on a baking tray if you want plain bread but trust me that’s no fun. One of the easiest things to do with the dough is make tomato and herb bread. All you need is a tube of tomato puree, some sun dried tomatoes and some of the herbs you bought earlier like oregano and basil. Simply flatten the dough out and use your fingers to push into it making lots of little creators. Then squeeze the tomato puree all over the dough (about half a full tube or more if you want to), finely chop the sun dried tomatoes and sprinkle a decent amount of the herbs over it. Now get messy, start kneading the dough, using your fingers now more than the heel of your hand as you want to work the mixture into the dough. It’s good to have some extra flour handy as you are adding wet ingredients to the dough so you need to counter this by adding more flour a table-spoon at a time until you have worked the mixture into the dough and it has returned to the same feel as the way it was before you added the wet ingredients. Now shape it into a loaf and place it on a floured baking tray cutting 3 or 4 slashes diagonally across the top. You need to let it rest again until it has roughly doubled in size. Turn your oven on to full at this point to pre heat it.

You can add what ever you want to the bread within reason. I like to thinly slice and onion and fry it in a little oil till golden then allow to cool. Then finely dice some good hard cheddar and work the two of them into the dough with a little bit of dried thyme. Make it into a loaf shape and repeat the previous process.

Fuck it’s been a while since I told a joke or said something funny so completely off the topic, “How do you know that you live in a rough area? When you go down your local for a table quiz and the first question is “What the fuck are you looking at?””.

Ok back on topic, once the loaves have doubled in size then pour a little olive oil over the top and sprinkle with some sea salt and place in the oven for about 15mins. You will know when they are done by knocking on them and hearing a hollow sound.

To make the foccacia bread after you have halved the dough then flatten out one half with your hands till it’s about a half-inch thick, then pull it into roughly the shape of a square flat baking tray (which you will be cooking it on anyway!). You can use a rolling-pin but there is really no need, it looks better this way and anyway I can’t be arsed checking if I told you to buy one earlier in the book. Once you have it flattened now use your thumb to push indentations into the top of the dough and fill them with what ever you want, olives, sun blushed tomatoes, baby onions, cubed smoked ham, and hard cheese what ever you want to try then go ahead and try if it works then do it again, if it doesn’t then tell no one of your attempt if will damage your fast growing reputation as a great chef! Once you have it filled with the ingredients of your choice then sprinkle liberally with sea salt and a few twists of black pepper and genrerously drizzle some olive oil over the top before putting it in a warm place and allow to rise for about 20mins. Then put it in the top of the oven (the hottest part) for about 10 – 12 minutes.

In the case of the rolls merely divide the dough into a dozen or so smaller little loaves and shape them how you want. You can do this after you have added the ingredients to make it a flavoured bread or you can do them plain and sprinkle some sesame or poppy seeds on top before baking them. These will need to be allowed rise before cooking (middle part of the oven for these) for 8 – 10mins again.

That’s it you know how to make bread! Fucking great isn’t it. I mean we are not trying to put Pat the Baker out of business just trying to teach you how to make several rustic breads that are great on their own for brunch or with soups and pasta dishes which we will deal with later.

Handy tip time now….. if you are making rolls or and bread and have a little bit of dough left over then roll it out till it’s the length of a baking tray and very thin, then roll it in some grated parmesan and bake quickly for about 3-5mins in the top of the oven to get cheesy bread sticks! They are great as an alternative to tortilla chips to use with dips when watching a movie with a girl or watching the football with your mates.

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