Guys, I absolutely adore making bread. I used to be terrible at it – I never kneaded it enough, proving it felt like a mystery, things just never turned out correctly. Since watching 8 seasons of Bread Week though, I’ve kind of figured it out and kneading dough is my new favorite thing. So getting to this bread week challenge was exciting for me!
BUT let me just say… I followed this recipe by Paul Hollywood. Paul, this recipe is the worst… the method I mean. I felt like I was actually following a parsed down technical recipe. There is no help here at all. It expects you to be an expert and offers to hints as to if you’re doing it right at all. No “the dough will be very wet.” No “don’t add any extra flour to the dough, use oil to prevent sticking”. No dimensions for a baking sheet. It even leaves out the part where you poke holes into the top before baking. Also, this is step 2: “Stretch the dough by hand in the bowl, tuck the sides into the centre, turn the bowl 80 degrees and repeat the process for about five minutes.” Literally what does that even mean?
So, I had to googled other recipes to figure out what the heck I was supposed to be doing. And luckily, I came across this video by the beautiful season 3 James.
Honestly, because I this video I plan on buying his book. It’s so much more helpful than anything in this BBC recipe!
But now that I’m done complaining about Paul’s recipe, let’s get into baking this delicious bread.
First things first I weighed things out using my handy kitchen scale:
500g bread flour
2tbsp olive oil
400ml water, cold
Then it all got mixed together into a super shaggy, sticky dough
And using Jame’s slap and fold method I kneaded the dough and got it into a kinda smoothish ball. I wasn’t super worried about it not being super smooth because James mentioned in his video that kneading isn’t vital for this bread – you can just leave it to prove longer and it’ll knead itself
And let it rise in its own gross and doughy bowl until it’s nice and big. PS those specks in the dough are oregano. I added some dried spice into the dough at the beginning just to add a little bit of flavor.
And then I smashed it into a 9″x13″ baking tray. It wasn’t big enough to fit and it tore a little while I was stretching it out, so I’m not sure how Paul wanted me to make two of these on large baking sheets but whatever, I’m ignoring him now out of anger.
Good news is, after it rose it filled up the baking sheet nicely. I poked my fingers in, sprinkled it with olive oil and tossed in the oven
So Paul’s recipe said to bake for 20 minutes, but the bread looked really pale and kinda doughy in the indentations so I ignored him and listened to James and left it in for an extra 10 minutes. And honestly it was the perfect timing:
I am really proud of the final result. The bread’s crumb structure is nice and irregular, springs all the way back when pushed and tastes soooo good.
Really, it’s freakin delicious. So while I’m giving Paul a hard time for his annoyingly unhelpful recipe – it’s a good bread.
What was difficult:
- The recipe! It was unclear and offered no helpful hints along the way to help make sure I was on the right path.
- Kneading it. It’s really a wet dough and kneading it was totally different than any other dough I’ve dealt with
What I learned:
- How to knead a super wet dough
- That Paul sucks at writing methods? (this will need further investigating)
Would I make it again?
- 100% yes. It’s really easy and low maintenance and tastes just delicious. I kind of want to make it all the time and just constantly be eating focaccia.