For the brown loaf
- 400g malted grain brown bread flour, or wholemeal or granary bread flour
- 100g strong white bread flour
- 7g sachet easy-bake dried yeast (or 2 tsp Quick dried yeast)
Yeast is a living, single-cell organism. As the yeast grows, it converts its food (in the form…
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp soft butter
Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…
For the flavourings
- 2 plump garlic cloves, crushed with ¼ tsp salt
- 5 slices prosciutto, roughly chopped
Prosciutto is sweet, delicate ham intended to be eaten raw. The word 'prosciutto' is the…
- 1 beaten egg
The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…
Mix your choice of brown flour with the white, the yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Put in the butter and rub it into the flour. Mix in the crushed garlic. Make a dip in the centre of the flour and pour in almost 300ml hand warm (cool rather than hot) water, with a round-bladed knife. Then mix in enough of the remaining water and a bit more if needed, to gather up any dry bits in the bottom of the bowl and until the mixture comes together as a soft, not too sticky, dough. Gather it into a ball with your hands.
Put the dough on to a very lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 mins until it feels smooth and elastic, only adding the minimum of extra flour if necessary to prevent the dough sticking. Place the ball of dough on a lightly floured work surface. Cover with an upturned, clean, large glass bowl and leave for 45 mins-1 hr or until doubled in size and feels light and springy. Timing will depend on the warmth of the room.
Knock back the dough by lightly kneading just 3-4 times. You only want to knock out any large air bubbles, so too much handling now will lose the dough’s lightness. Shape into a ball. Cover with the glass bowl and leave for 15 mins.
Shape by cutting the ball into 6 even pieces. Roll each with your hands into a 30-35cm sausage shape, that is plump in the middle and tapers off at each end. For each plait, lay 2 dough sausages in front of you like an X, then lay the other piece lengthways down the middle of the X and scatter over a few slices of proscuitto. Start to plait from the centre down, left over right, right over left etc. When you reach the end, carefully turn the plait over and complete the plaiting, working down from the centre again. Press the tapered ends together to seal then lay each on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Tuck the rest of the proscuitto into the folds of each plait. Cover with a clean tea towel. Leave for 40-45 mins, or until doubled in size.
Put a roasting tin in the bottom of the oven 20 mins before ready to bake and heat oven to 230C/210C fan/gas 8. Put the risen bread in the oven, carefully pour about 250ml cold water into the roasting tin (this will hiss and create a burst of steam to give you a crisp crust), then lower the heat to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Bake for 25 mins or until golden. Remove and cool on a wire rack. If you tap the underneath of the loaf if should be firm and sound hollow. Finish by brushing with beaten egg.