This has to be one of our favourite breads – it is very simple and quite fun to make, and is packed with olive oil and rosemary flavour, and topped with a generous helping of Maldon sea salt. Making this has taught us that making bread is more of an art than a science – don’t be scared by recipes stating how long to let the dough rise, etc – you can be flexible and it will still come out great!
500 grams strong white bread flour
400 ml of luke warm water
12 grams salt (fine sea salt or table salt)
7g packet of dried yeast
50 ml of olive oil (we use good quality olive oil for the dough, and some extra virgin olive oil for drizzling before putting in the oven – so have both)
5 springs of fresh rosemary
- Place four in a large bowl, and put salt in one edge and yeast in the other. Mix both into the flour in their respective corners with your hand. This is to prevent the salt killing the yeast.
- Add the water and olive oil into the flour. Mix with a wooden spoon. At this stage you should have a wet and sloppy dough. Don’t worry, you haven’t messed it up!
- Leave the dough to rest for around 30 minutes to one hour. Covered with cling film or a damp towel.
- Once rested, you need to knead the dough. This can be very messy with your fingers, even if well oiled, because the dough is wet. I like to use an oiled dough scraper. The kneading involves putting the dough scraper under the dough, folding it over itself and pressing down. Turn the bowl and repeat. Keep doing this for around 5-10 minutes. The dough should be slightly firmer at this stage, but still relatively wet and sloppy compared to your average bread dough.
- Now leave the dough to rise until doubled in size. This can take varying amounts of time depending on the temperature in your house. I leave it upstairs in the room with most sun and it normally takes around 1 hour. Cover the dough with a damp cloth or oiled cling film. It has taken longer in the past so don’t worry if not done in one hour. If it has risen and you don’t want to move onto the next step yet, put it in the fridge which slows down the yeast.
- Turn the dough out into a well oiled baking tray. Don’t be tight with the oil – this bread loves oil! I use an 25cm by 35cm tray. The aim now is to flatten the dough with your fingers. Fold it over itself and flatten a few times. I struggle to get it into the corners at this stage, but don’t worry. After you have flattened it out, you need to leave the dough to rise in the tray again for around 1 hour, again covered with a camp cloth or oiled cling film. When done it may well be filling the corners.
- Now the bread is ready to bake. Scatter rosemary leaves all over the bread, then with oiled fingers make indents all over the bread with your fingers. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt (coarse – I use Maldon).
- Bake in a pre heated oven for around 20 minutes at 180C fan, until golden.
- Once I made this bread and the bottom was a bit soggy when I turned it out. I placed on an oven rack instead of tray to finish off for around 5 minutes and it was perfect.