I've had the most ridiculous week. Laid up in bed for a large part of it, with a box of tissues, lozenges, syrups and paracetamol, nursing a very stubborn flu that isn't appearing to improve at all. Then last night things took a turn for the worse, and I went racing to the hospital for a late night doc visit, and came back with antibiotics and not much of a voice (that beautiful husky voice turns into a croak, and then pretty much vanishes, it turns out) The penicillin has helped though, so though I can't talk (and apparently I could be croaking for upto 6 weeks!! What?!), I can bake! So I thought I'd do something about my fresh-bread craving. There was an open bottle of pesto in the fridge that needed to be used too. Perfect.
What you need
Warm water - 1 cup
Dry yeast - 7 g
Plain flour - 2.5 cups
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Pesto (I used readymade pesto for this bread, but you can make your own) - 1/2 cup
Black pepper - 1 tsp
Egg wash ( 1 egg, beaten)
What you do
- Pour the water in a large mixing bowl
- Sprinkle the yeast on it, and give it 10 minutes to froth
- Add the flour, olive oil, and salt
- Mix the ingredients by hand to make a rough dough, and then knead on a clean surface until the dough is soft and elastic. Bread recipes normally say this takes about 15 minutes. I took about 25 for mine. You have to keep at it until the dough can be stretched almost paper thin without tearing! Knead, whack, punch - great exercise for the arms!
- Roll the dough into a ball
- Now rub a little oil on your palms and lightly grease the dough, place it back in your mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel, and set aside to rise. I warmed my oven for about 2 minutes at 100 C, switched off, and then placed my bowl inside it.
- Let the dough rise to twice its size. Takes about an hour.
- Lightly flour your work surface
- Transfer the risen dough to your surface, and gently stretch and elongate it
- Roll into a rectangle of around 18 inches by 12 inches
- Spread your pesto evenly on the dough
- Sprinkle some black pepper on it too
- Gently roll the dough (long side) towards you. Gently seal the roll edge by pressing the edge close to you lightly onto the roll
- Cut the dough in half down the centre
- Squeeze the tops of the two halves together to seal
- Twist the two halves around each other, gently pulling as you move down the dough if you feel it's shrunk back
- Seal the bottoms of the two halves together
- Now shape your twist into an inverted S, to form a sea horse. You can also wrap into a wreath, or twirl into a spiral
- Transfer your shaped dough onto your baking tray
- Cover with a tea towel, and allow to rise for half an hour
- In the meantime pre-heat your oven to 220 C ( I use a fan-assisted oven)
- When the dough is ready to be baked, brush the top with egg wash
- Pop into the oven, and bake for 25 minutes
- When done, pull out, tear and share!
Tip: You could sprinkle parmesan on your twist just before popping it in the oven
Tell me how it turns out!