I had friends over on Saturday. We were going to a hen’s night together so I asked them to come over beforehand. I organised some chips and dips and cheeses and faffed about getting ready in between locating cheese knives and sourcing plates for (store bought) dips. Everyone thinks chips and dips are easy, but really, they’re fiddly. I have nothing against cheese and biccies (in fact, I quite enjoy them) but there are lots of bowls and knives and plates to clear away afterwards.
It dawned on me this morning that I should have made this instead.
This little loaf lends itself to sweet or savoury fillings and is perfect for sharing. Instead of capsicum and basil, try raspberry and white chocolate filling or cheese and vegemite or honey and macadamia – the list goes on!
- 250ml whole milk
- 75g unsalted butter
- 4 ¼ cups strong white flour
- 1/2 tsp fine salt
- 7g fast action yeast (normally 1 packet)
- 1 egg
- ½ cup basil dip (or pesto)
- 2 whole roasted peppers
Put your milk and butter in a small pan over a medium heat until the butter is melted. Turn the flame up to scald the mixture (bring it just to a boil) and then remove it from the heat.
As the butter and milk cools, combine the flour, salt and yeast. Lightly whisk the egg, then add it to the cooled milk mixture. Pour the milk, egg and butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until you have a shaggy dough. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, pop it in to mix for 5 minutes. If you don’t have a dough hook, prepare to get physical with your dough! Give it a rough knead in the bowl, making sure all of the flour combines and you have a cohesive dough after about ten minutes.
Shape the dough into a nice little ball and put it in a bowl, then cover in cling wrap to rise for about 30 minutes. It should just about double in size – the longer you leave it, the bigger it will get.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Lightly flour a surface and roll the dough out into a rectangle of about 30x40cm. Chop the rectangle in half lengthways. I found it easiest to do this using an old metal school ruler a knives tend to drag the dough unnecessarily. Spread one filling over one half of the dough an the other filling over the remaining half, then roll them (starting from one of the 40cm edges) into a sausage. When you have two sausages, slice halfway through the dough to expose the innards of the sausage (sorry for the kind of gross description, but it makes sense). Sidle the sausages up next to one another and plait them loosely, folding one over the other as best as possible. Don’t worry about being neat, the beauty of this bread is that it tastes delicious and looks good, regardless of your plaiting skills. Take each end of the plait and turn them in towards one another so that you get a pretzel-like shape.
Bake for 30-35 minutes on a greased baking tray and serve piping hot. When you tap the bread it should sound hollow – if it doesn’t, pop it back in the oven for five. The inside of this bread has an uncanny ability to maintain a temperature that would put the sun to shame, so be careful when you scoff it!