All day last Saturday, I was craving bread - fresh out of the oven, and dripping with butter. Perhaps it was simply the smell of just-baked bread that I was craving the most (who doesn't love that smell? It reminds me of childhood), but for once in my life this led me to bake something savoury.
Having never baked bread before, I fell back on my old favourite, Lorraine Pascale. For anyone who hasn't got her books, I can't praise her highly enough - the recipes are absolutely divine, yet simple to follow. Perfect for novices!
I stumbled across a recipe for her 21st Century Ham, Cheese and Chive bread and fell absolutely head over heels in love. Not only is it one of the easiest recipes I have ever baked, but it also tastes a little bit like heaven. The cheese crust is delicious, while the little pieces of ham make for a lovely, salty texture - and you can make it in under an hour!
This is the perfect bread for dipping in soup, or for eating (all to yourself) warm with butter!
425g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
150g grated mature cheddar, plus an extra 10g for sprinkling on top
6 slices honey roast ham, finely chopped
1/2 bunch chives, finely chopped
1tsp paprika (optional)
1 tsp mustard powder (optional)
Twist of black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 200C, gas mark 6.
2. Put all of the ingredients in a bowl, except the water and 10g of grated cheese. Mix together well.
3. Add enough water to form a soft, sticky dough - this usually takes around 200ml, but could take up to 225ml. Stir it briefly, then get your hands in there and get them dirty! Squidge and squeeze the dough together - adding more water if necessary - until it all comes together. Don't worry, this could take a few minutes.
4. Remove the dough from the bowl and shape it into a nice, large ball. Now flatten it ever so slightly (this will help it to cook quicker), then slash the loaf three times vertically with a sharp knife. Sprinkle over the grated cheese.
5. Take a water spritzer and spray some water (about 8-10 sprays) into the oven to make things nice and steamy. Ooo-errr! Place the dough on a baking tray and bake for 35-35 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and smells GORGEOUS.
6. Remove from the oven and attempt to leave to cool slightly...I said attempt, I always fail at this part. Bread is at its yummiest and most delicious when it is hot hot hot!