It should be easier than this…

What was it that made me believe that baking bread was easy? Maybe it is easy and I am just incapable? Is it like being green fingered in that you either have it or you don’t? (For someone who likes to think that he’s quite good at stuff, it frustrates me to the core that I am utterly useless at keeping plants alive: herbs, chillies, carrots, spuds, flowers, trees – I’ve killed them all) Maybe that’s what it is – I’m really good at killing plants and making rather ordinary bread.

I think I am getting better, but it still doesn’t come naturally to me at all – I really have to try hard, and even when I do, I only just about manage to produce a loaf that is kind of edible, eatable, whatever – I mean, you wouldn’t single it out if it were offered to you in a bread basket at your local Italian restaurant, but you’d probably just about force it down if I served it to you when you came over for lunch. That’s how good my bread is. It’s about as good as I was at rugby when I was in the third form (that reminds me – does anyone who was at school with me remember Mr Mullineux and the way he had to strap it to his leg when he wore shorts in rugby training? – my god that was revolting…)

Anyway – I tried particularly hard today, and, with Immie’s help, I think we may have pulled off a minor coup – we made a loaf of bread that is not only edible, but you can just about take a photo of it and post it on a blog – result. And here it is…

Gruyere and olive bread

So I start with 500g of this really good “organic oak smoked stoneground strong malted blend flour” (I know – what a bloody mouthful – but it’s pretty good). To it, add a 7g sachet of yeast, a good pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of honey dissolved in about 300ml of warm water. Mix the whole lot together and knead for about 10 minutes then leave in your mixing bowl in a warm place with covered with a wet tea towel for at least an hour.

In the meantime chop a couple of handfuls of olives and grate a decent sized chunk of gruyere (really as much of each as you like).

When the dough has doubled in size, take it out of the bowl and fold in the cheese and olives with your hands, divide and shape into whatever forms take your fancy and then put it onto a floured baking tray back in a warm place, covered with the damp tea towel for at least another half hour.

Heat your oven to 225 degrees and into it put a tray, half full of water. When you’re ready, put the bread in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until it’s golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom. That’s it.

Now cue the comments that are going to tell me what I did wrong and why I keep screwing up my bread. Bring it on people…

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