This is a very flavoursome bread and looks extremely impressive for a dinner party. It can also be baked as little muffins or bread rolls.
- 225 g strong white flour
- 225 g wholemeal flour
- pinch of sugar
- pinch of salt
- freshly-ground black pepper
- 275 ml (approx) warm water
- 50 g fresh yeast
- 2 tsp tomato purée
- 100 g sundried tomatoes (chopped)
- 75 g parmesan cheese (grated)
- sea salt
- 1 egg (beaten with 2 tbsp milk for egg wash)
- Put the flours, salt, pepper and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Combine the yeast with the warm water (again the water should be approximately 37°C so as to activate the fresh yeast). Don’t add all the water to the yeast at once as, depending on the moisture of the tomatoes, it may be moist enough; add about three-quarters of the liquid first and check the consistency as you go along before adding the remaining liquid. Mix well until combined, then whisk the tomato purée into the mixture.
- Add this liquid to the flour mixture together with the grated cheese and chopped sundried tomatoes.
- Mix until completely combined and knead together on a lightly-floured surface for a few minutes. Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with cling film or a clean linen cloth.
- Leave to rise for about an hour until doubled in volume and then nock the mixture back with your fist. Again, on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough lightly until it feels springy to the touch.
- Divide the dough into three pieces and roll each shape into a long cylindrical shape. Press the three ends together and tie up in a French plait (right over centre, left over centre and so on; the centre coil changes each time).
- Arrange neatly on a baking tray and leave in a wrm place again for about 20 minutes until the shape fills out a little. In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5).
- Brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until cooked.
You can use dried yeast (2 x 7g sachets) in this recipe instead of fresh. The most obvious difference between the two types of yeast, in terms of the production of the bread, is that the dried yeast is added directly to the flour, whereas the fresh yeast needs to be dissolved in water.