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 a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…
For the flavourings
- 1 rounded tbsp each of chopped basil, rosemary and snipped chives
Most closely associated with Mediterranean cooking but also very prevalent in Asian food, the…
- 1 or 2 sprigs of rosemary
Rosemary's intense, fragrant aroma has traditionally been paired with lamb, chicken and game…
- salt flakes
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. Stir in the herbs. 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 oiling and lining the base and sides of a clean, unused earthenware flowerpot (about 14cm tall x 13cm diameter) with baking parchment. Cut off ¾ of the dough, shape it into a fat sausage that is slightly narrower at one end and push the narrow end down into the pot. Shape the rest into 3 round buns. Finish by brushing the loaf lightly with water and gently pressing a sprig or 2 of rosemary into the top (soak the rosemary in cold water first to help prevent it from burning in the oven). Sprinkle with salt flakes and a little flour, and sit it on a baking sheet with the buns, also decorated with rosemary and salt. Cover all with a clean tea towel and leave for 40-45 mins, or until the loaf has risen to about 5cm above the top of the pot.
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 about 20 mins for the rolls and 30 minutes for the flowerpot, 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