I’m a bread lover. I come by it honestly, genetically coming from a long line of bread eaters. When I was a kid, there wasn’t a meal served where a loaf of bread did not occupy the most prestigious position on the table, right beside the salt and pepper. There is something magical about a crusty loaf of bread, but when you feel the need to live dangerously you can jazz up your loaf by rolling it flat and adding a few toppings. Feel free to experiment and be creative. Here is one of my favourites.
What you need: (a basic bread recipe)
- 2 packages of active dry yeast (2 tbsp)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 600-700ml lukewarm water (adjusting as needed)
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1 kilo (8 cups) of flour
What you need for the topping:
- A good handful of basil leaves
- 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
- 4 tbsp commercially prepared pesto (optional)
- Coarse sea salt (a generous sprinkle)
- 1/2 cup of olive oil for the surface
How it’s done:
- Dissolve your yeast and honey in half of the water and let sit for a few minutes
- In a large mixing bowl combine the flour and salt
- Make a well in the centre of your flour and add the yeast water mixture
- Using a fork slowly combine the flour into the water with short circular movements until all of the initial water in incorporated.
- Add the remaining water and work the dough with your hands until you have a nice ball of elastic dough.
- Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes.
- Grease a large mixing bowl.
- Place your ball of dough in your bowl, cover with a towel and put it in a draft free place.
- Let rise for an hour or so or until it has doubled in size.
- I usually use round pizza pans so I divide the dough into thirds and roll out 3 rounds about 1/2 inch thick.
- Using a trick I learned from reading Jamie Oliver, I use the tips of my fingers to push into the dough creating a dimple effect, allowing places for the olive oil to pool.
- As you guessed it, now is the time to add the oil. Don’t be shy, with a spatula or pastry brush evenly coat the surface with oil.
- At this point if using prepared pesto take a teaspoon and evenly drop the pesto onto the surface of the dough.
- Sprinkle the surface with the coarse salt, and add the garlic, basil leaves and pine nuts.
- Place into a pre-heated oven and bake at 200C/400F for about 20 min.
I am warning you this recipe is rather addictive and if indulged will have serious consequences on your waistline! Be warned.