Feb 23, 2013

Aniseed Bread

Most people I know who love to cook are never satisfied until they've found 'the' recipe for bread: 'that' quasi-perfect recipe that not only makes delicious bread, but results in an immense personal sense of achievement leading you to swear that you'll never buy bread from your local bakery again (when in fact, we all know that's simply not true). Essentially, bread is a simple food and probably the most common food that we humans are familiar with. However, it is one of the trickiest to make at home. Many have told me that they'll try anything except bread- leave that to the baker with their special ovens and customized flours (and their early wake up calls). Well, I say don't be intimidated, don't despair. I have a recipe that I swear by- years have passed and it has not once betrayed me!
Essentially, it's a recipe for a simple loaf of white bread. But at home we have the tradition of throwing in some aniseed into the dough. The aniseed adds some character and a superb flavour that compliments almost any kind of food that you might find yourself enjoying this bread with.
I love my Kitchenaid- but even more when there's dough kneading involved! 
Let the machine do it's thing!
The base dough calls for just five simple ingredients. 
And no fussy techniques. The result is an almost perfect loaf of bread!

Recipe for Aniseed Bread
(Aniseed is optional- but give it a try if you have some lying around!)

500gr bread flour + extra to work with
1 tbsp aniseed
1/2 teaspoon salt
7g fast action yeast (typically = 1 sachet)
3 tbsp olive oil
300ml warm water

In a large bowl, mix the flour, aniseed, salt and yeast. Then make a well in the center to which you'll add the oil and water. Mix everything well and then knead dough onto a lightly floured surface for 5-8 minutes (or with a Kitchenaid if available). When the dough has a smooth appearance, place it in a  lightly oiled large bowl (it needs to be large so that there is space for the dough to rise). Cover bowl and leave to rise: count two hours until it has doubled in size. 
Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Transfer the dough onto the tray and gently form into a ball. Leave to rise for another one hour. 
About fifty minutes through, heat oven to 220C/425F. 
After that the dough has risen, lightly dust the loaf with flour, cut a cross onto the top with a sharp knife and bake for 40 minutes. You'll know it's ready if you tap underneath and hear a hollow sound. If that's not the case, extend for another 10-15 minutes. When ready, remove and let cool. 

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