Considering I’ve only ever really made white or wholemeal plain loaves before, this was aspirational bread-making. But surprisingly easy, and most impressive.
700g strong plain white flour
pinch of salt
14ml fast-action dried yeast
450ml warm water
60ml good olive oil
Coarse sea salt or crystal salt, for sprinkling.
10-15 leaves fresh sage, chopped
1 small onion, thinly sliced
Get the largest bowl you have. The bigger it is, the less chance of flour getting everywhere. Also, for god’s sake wear an apron. Flour everywhere.
Put the flour, yeast, chopped sage leaves and salt into the bowl, make a well in the centre and gradually work in the warm water and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Work it all together using a wooden spoon until you can lift it out of the bowl in one go.
Place it on a floured surface and knead it for about ten minutes. What you want is for the dough to feel smooth and to bounce back a bit when you prod it with a finger. Be brave, because it can feel like you’re not going to get to this stage but it’ll happen. If it’s too dry, add a bit more water but not too much, don’t let it go soggy. If it gets soggy, add more flour.
To save washing up, clean the bowl you originally mixed the ingredients in, and then put the kneaded dough back in the bowl. It should look something like this:
Leave this covered with a dample cloth for about an hour until it’s doubled in size. Isn’t that clever, how dough rises?
Take the dough out of the bowl and knock it back. Don’t knead it too much, you want to keep a bit of air in it. Just give it a couple of punches. Now roll it out until it’s roughly a rectangle and place it in or on the tray you’re going to bake it in. Stretch it out so that it fits the tray. I used a large roasting tin because it was the most handy thing I had. You could use a large oven tray.
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F.
Now make deep dimples all over the suface of the dough using your fingertips. Drizzle with the rest of the olive oil and sprinkle the salt on. Be generous with the salt. Also sprinkle on the sliced onions and a few torn sage leaves. It should now look something like this:
Put it in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until it’s turning golden.
When done, let it cool on a wire rack.
Eat, eat, eat!