Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Herb Loaf

Serve this aromatic wholemeal loaf as part of a ploughman's lunch. Recipe makes 1 loaf.


3 cups strong white flour
3 cups plain wholemeal flour
4 teaspoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
2 ounces (60 g) butter
3 sachets rapid rise dried yeast
1/2 cup chopped fresh mixed herbs
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
Beaten egg, to glaze


1. Grease a baking tray. Sift the flours, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl, add any wholemeal husks from the sieve to the bowl. Rub in butter with the fingertips. Stir in the yeast and fresh herbs.
2. Add the egg, milk and 1/3 cup lukewarm water and beat until the mixture forms a dough which leaves the side of the bowl clean.
3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
4. Shape the dough into a long oval loaf and put Onto the baking tray. Cover with oiled, clear plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
5. Slash the top of the loaf with a sharp knife. Brush with beaten egg. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Turn the loaf upside down on the baking tray and return to the cooling oven for a further 5 minutes. Leave on a wire rack to cool.

Tip: A ploughman's lunch consists of crusty bread, Cheddar cheese and pickled onions. Revive slightly stale bread by brushing it with water and putting it in a hot oven for a few minutes. Serve warm.

Cauliflower Neapolitan

This Italian dish can be served with any meat course or as part of an antipasto platter. It is useful for entertaining as it can be cooked a day ahead and reheated just before serving. Recipe serves 4.


1/2 medium-sized cauliflower
1 x 13.5 ounce (425 g) can tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
12 stuffed olives, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped capers
1/2 teaspoon sugar


1. Cut cauliflower into large florets. Boil, steam or microwave until tender; drain and rinse under cold water.
2. Blend or process undrained, crushed tomatoes until smooth; strain to remove seeds.
3. Heat oil in a frying pan; add onion and cook until tender. Add pureed tomato, olives, capers and sugar; simmer until heated through.
4. Toss cauliflower through sauce and serve immediately.

Savory Stuffed Loaf

Serve this healthy loaf warm with a barbecue lunch for a delightful treat. Recipe makes 2 loaves.


1 pound (500 g) packet of white bread mix
2 sachets dried yeast, enclosed in bread mix pack
Milk or beaten egg, to glaze
1 pound (500 g) frozen leaf spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and black pepper
4 ounces (125 g) Mozzarella cheese, grated
2 large tomatoes, chopped
4 ounces (125 g) Gruyere cheese, grated
16 pitted black olives, chopped
2 1/2 ounces (75 g) Parmesan cheese, grated


1. Grease a baking tray. Put the spinach in a pan and place over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until simmering. Cook for 3 minutes, to boil away any excess liquid. Remove from heat. Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste and leave to cool.
2. Put the white bread mix and yeast in a mixing bowl. Stir in 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water and mix to a dough. Tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes. Roll out to a 16 x 12 inch (40 x 30 cm) rectangle. Cut in half width ways, to make two 12 x 8 inch (30 x 20 cm) rectangles. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
3. Spread half the spinach mixture down the center of each piece of dough. Scatter the Mozzarella cheese over the spinach, top with tomatoes, sprinkle with the Gruyere cheese, dividing equally. Top each with half the olives and a third of the Parmesan cheese.
4. Brush the edges of the dough with cold water. Bring the edges of each piece over the filling to the middle and seal and flute, or roll the top over, like a pastry.
5. Put the loaves on the baking tray. Brush with milk or egg and sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese over each loaf. Leave to rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and bake for 10 minutes more. Serve warm.

Tip: You can prepare the dough in a large electric mixer with a dough hook attachment. Knead the dough for only 2-3 minutes.

Herb Baguettes

These wholesome bread loaves are irresistible served warm with soup or cheese. Recipe makes 3 loaves.


2 sachets rapid rise dried yeast
1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (try oregano, basil and chives)
1/3 cup wheatgerm
3 cups strong white flour
2 cups wholemeal all-purpose (plain) flour
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons (40 g) butter, melted
2 teaspoons dried oregano


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease 3 baking trays.
2. Put the yeast, herbs, wheat germ, flours and salt into a large mixing bowl or into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.
3. Add 14 fl ounces (400 ml) lukewarm water approximately, and mix well to form a pliable dough.
4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth. Divide into 3 equal pieces and shape each into a long narrow loaf.
5. Put the loaves on the baking trays and cover with oiled clear plastic wrap. Leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
6. Remove the plastic wrap and brush the loaves with the melted butter. Sprinkle with the dried oregano. Using a sharp knife, slash each loaf diagonally a few times.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. The base of the loaves should sound hollow when trapped with a knuckle. Put on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or cold.

Tip: Wheatgerm is the center of the wheat grain, which is usually extracted during flour milling. It can be bought in its natural state or toasted. It is a source of protein and Vitamin B. Add it to the flour when bread-making.