The smell of freshly baked bread has to be one of the better smells of the cooking world. And no, I’m not talking about the fake ‘fresh bread’ smell that some ‘restaurants’ manufacture to draw customers in.
I’m talking about that little neighbourhood bakery where you can just smell the fact that everything is freshly cooked. I’m talking about that beautiful smell that draws you down the stairs to peek into the oven to see how your magical bread is coming along.
I’m talking about a smell so good that it makes up for having to smell dry yeast as it froths, foams and does its thing.
For someone who enjoys baking, there aren’t many things better than baking bread in a spring air-filled kitchen with fresh cheese from the market waiting in the fridge, or in a cosy, oven-warmed winter kitchen with a bubbling soup on the stovetop.
But it can be a difficult journey, and many bakers develop a love-hate relationship with yeast, which looks innocuous, becomes a stinking volatile mess when mixed with a liquid.
Just make sure your liquid is warm enough, and after the allotted time, if you don’t have a witch’s brew of frothed up, ready to make bread magically fluffy yeast, try again because it is so very worth the effort in the end.
Pumpkin, Pesto and Fetta Pull-Apart
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 teaspoons caster sugar
- 7g sachet dry yeast
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 400g butternut pumpkin (peeled and cubed)
- 18 fresh sage leaves (6 leaves thinly sliced, 12 leaves kept whole)
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sundried tomato pesto
- ½ cup cheddar cheese
- 100g fetta (crumbled)
- 1 egg (lightly beaten)
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Place warm water, caster sugar and yeast in a bowl. Whisk with a fork until yeast has dissolved. Stand in a warm place for 10 minutes or until frothy.
- Lightly grease a large bowl with a little extra virgin olive oil and set aside.
- Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the yeast mixture and olive oil. Mix to form a soft dough.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead dough for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough in the oil-greased bowl, cover with cling wrap and set aside in a warm place for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
- Combine the pumpkin with the thinly sliced sage and 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and bake for 20 minutes or until tender. Set aside to cool.
- When the dough has proved, punch it down gently and knead until smooth.
- Grease a 6cm-deep, 10cm x 20cm loaf pan well with butter or olive oil. Set aside.
- Roll dough out to a 15cm x 25cm rectangle. Spread the sundried tomato pesto over the dough and then scatter the cheddar cheese, cooked pumpkin and crumbled fetta over the top.
- Starting from a long side, roll the dough up like a Swiss roll, cut it into 12 pieces and then shape each piece into a ball.
- Place half the balls of dough into the prepared loaf pan. Top each piece with a whole sage leaf. Place the remaining dough balls on top in an alternating pattern to fill the gaps and top with the remaining sage leaves.
- Cover with lightly greased cling wrap and set aside in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes or until the dough has almost doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, preheat the over to 190°C.
- When read to bake, brush the dough top with the egg and bake for 30 minutes and golden brown on top.
- Tip, top side down, onto a wire rack to cool. Serve, warm, with a small bowl of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Inspired by Super Food Ideas magazine.