There is nothing more satisfying than baking your own bread. Your house will fill with that delicious freshly baked bread smell too. Yes, it takes time, but it's easy and you will definitely be rewarded. Here is my plaited gourmet breads. These loaves are flavoured with sundried tomatoes, pepitas, parmesan and tasty cheeses, however feel free to change up the fillings. You can try spinach and feta or cheese and bacon. The options are endless.
600g (or 4 cups) white plain flour
600g (or 4 cups) wholemeal plain flour
3 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons dry active yeast
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried Tuscan seasoning
1L very warm water (you may not need all of the water)
1 tablespoon olive oil
100g semi sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup pepitas (sunflower seeds)
300g grated parmesan
200g grated tasty cheese
2 tablespoons milk
Makes 2 loaves
Mix all dry ingredients together thoroughly in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.
Pour 3/4 of the liquid and oil and mix thoroughly. Add more water if necessary to make a moist stiff dough.
Form dough into a large ball and drizzle the edge of the bowl with oil to stop the dough from sticking. Cover tightly with cling wrap. Place in a warm place covered with a tea towel and leave to double in size - approximately 1 hour, however this depends on temperature conditions.
When the dough has doubled in size, turn onto a floured bench. Knead and divide dough into your two loaves. With each loaf's dough, divide into 3 equal parts.
Stretch and roll each third into long log-like lengths. Place the 3 logs onto a lined baking tray. Add your toppings - 50g of parmesan, half the semi sundried tomatoes and half the pepitas. Join the 3 logs at one end. Plait and neatly join the other end. Repeat with the other loaf.
Make an egg wash with the egg and milk. Brush all over the two loaves. Cover each loaf tightly in cling wrap and place in a warm place again covered with a tea towel for about an 1 hour to prove. Preheat oven at 170 degrees Celsius.
Remove cling wrap. Sprinkle the remainder parmesan cheese and tasty cheese over the two loaves.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. When the loaf is cooked, cool on a wire rack. Serve warm with butter if desired.