Time taken: From start to finish – 2 ½ hours (Half an hour; then an hour’s break; then half an hour; then another hour’s break; then the bread bakes for half an hour).
Ingredients: 500g white bread flour, 300ml warm water, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 pack of dried yeast, 4 tablespoons of oil, 1 onion, 2 peppers, 2 tablespoons of dried mixed herbs, & either an egg or a splash of milk for the glaze.
So I have journeyed back to Newcastle for my final term of university (tears galore!) and I’m launching my final few weeks of student living! Such a strange thought!! And with the big rush of final exams and essays ahead… it’s very daunting. Oh to be back home. Walking the dog and having a lie in some days and watching the telly with a wine in an evening. Easter break seems so long ago already. And I only left home yesterday. I'm missing home A LOT.
Plus, it is noticeably colder in Newcastle than in Sheffield. I’m not joking – 2 ½ hours on the train and today’s been one big BRRRRRRR. It’s nippy! To the North East I say… what the hell?? What is going on?? What?! It’s not WINTER. Not anymore. Not on my watch. Readers, I left the house today wearing shades, with a hoody rather than a coat, and this was a terrible mistake.
So how's your Monday been?? Better? Than shivering and paying rent and collecting missed parcels. I know it’s Monday, and that’s never good, but you’ve got to have had a better time today than me! What’s been your silver lining of today? Give it a think. Just a little shimmer of silver there must be one! Silver liiiiiiiining.
I think mine COULD BE listening to the song ‘Tea & Toast’ by Lucy Spraggan. I picked this up from my cousin while I’ve been down in Sheffield of late. She listens to it in the kitchen and it’s reminding me of family and home. A feel good tune for sure.
Another pick me up today? Has been homemade bread. This was something I decided to have whirl at before I left Newcastle in March. BASICALLY I had time and not a lot of company before I left, and peppers to eat up. So I was inspired to bake an exotic bread! I looked up a recipe online and set to work with much gusto, then froze the loaf to eat when I got back again (best foresight ever). You can check out the original of the recipe that I used HERE.
Here, readers, is how to bake Med Bread in just twelve easy steps…
1. Measure your flour, water, salt, sugar, yeast and 2 tablespoons of oil into a mixing bowl, and stir until they begin to come together to form a dough.
2. Lightly flour your hands and your work surface, and knead your ball of dough for ten minutes.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: If you don’t know what kneading is then check out Youtube. The internet has everything… even bread baking tutorials! Be sure to use some proper elbow grease.
3. After ten minutes, pop your ball of dough back into the mixing bowl and cover with cling film. Leave this to prove now for 1 ½ hours.
4. Take your peppers and your onion and use a sharp knife to dice these into small pieces. Wash your dishes and then take a break for an hour! Listen to some good music.
5. When your bread has quarter of an hour left to prove, heat your oven to 200˚C. Pop your diced pepper into a small ovenproof dish and coat with a splash of oil. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes until they just start to colour.
6. Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a frying pan. Add your diced onion to the pan and fry for 5 minutes until it just starts to colour.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Prod that onion! Keep it moving around the pan the whole time so that it cooks and softens, but doesn’t burn.
7. Safely take your pepper out of the oven (turning this off) and take your onion off the heat (you can turn that off, too).
8. It’s time to ‘knock back’ your dough! Lightly flour your work surface again and take the dough out of the bowl. Fold your dough repeatedly in on itself using the heels of your hands, until it's smooth and all the air is knocked out of it. Pound your bread on the kitchen top.
9. Knead the pepper and onion into the dough, along with 2 tablespoons of dried mixed herbs.
10. Generously grease a loaf tin and then shape your dough into a rectangle about the size of the tin. Pop it in and leave to prove for another hour somewhere warm.
... After.11. Ten minutes in advance, turn your oven on again to heat to 200˚C.When fully proved, safely transport your loaf into the centre of your oven to bake for half an hour, until the loaf is firm and golden brown.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Half way through the bake, brush your loaf with a little milk or egg so that it becomes crispy on top.
12. When it’s finished baking take your loaf out of the oven. Pop it out of its tin and onto a wire cooling rack, to cool for at least half an hour before slicing your bread up to eat!
ChefBeHere Top Tip: When you take your loaf out of the oven, test that it’s cooked by tapping it on the bottom – it should sound hollow.
And there you have it… a homemade Med Bread loaf.
Readers, I’m not going to lie, baking bread is a tough haul. Like it takes SO loooooooong. And I’m such an impatient person. I got seriously bored and fed up along the way. Slumped by my radiator watching it rise. I quite grew to resent this loaf of bread, with all its proving and its kneading and whatever else. Baking bread is no joke.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s no reason to watch your bread rise. You watching it does not affect whether or not the bread rises, readers. Not one bit. I spent a lot of time watching TV, too, as well as the bread. So you can have a life as well as baking bread! Don’t let me put you off trying this recipe. Not one bit. But, readers, be warned you need to be committed to make this happen. And have a good few hours you can spend about the house. And an iron will.
But I did it! And the bread is loooooovely! Very light and fluffy and flavoursome. And with peppers! I can’t say I’ve eaten bread with peppers before, readers, but I hope that I do again. No to baking it (never again) but a firm yes to eating it. Because Med Bread tastes delicious! Homemade bread is always a winner in my books and so peppers just make this loaf extra special. And healthy! This loaf tastes like a dream. A savoury Mediterranean-but-homely-like-Sheffield bread dream, readers.
So I’m no expert on home baking bread, but I’d hazard a guess that this loaf rose high and baked proper. It freezes fine and tastes good. So… thumbs up? Give it a try! Readers, if there are any of you feeling motivated right now to bake your own bread then I say DO IT. You’ll love the sense of achievement and (hopefully) the bread, too! Give this a shot and let me know what you think of the recipe! Am I right? Is it a good ‘un? Is Med bread a hit with anyone beyond me??
And Tuesday is always a better day. Sleep on it.