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Bread is the staple of life, some say. I have always loved bread. Bread was always on the table in my childhood and  I loved it all. Crunchy Italian breadsticks. The Italian Vienna loaf with it’s thick crusty exterior and tender and open crumb. The Australian Tank loaf so named for it’s similarity to a corrugated iron water tank. Not to mention the delicious sweet breads such as homemade Finnish breads dotted with cardamom and fruit studded Hot Cross buns baked by our traditional local baker for Good Friday only.
To those of us of Italian heritage bread is special and treated with respect which I think stems from our Catholic faith. Ingrained in me is that bread should never be placed upside down as this brings bad luck. Italian bakers bless their bread dough by making the sign of the cross over it ensuring a good rise and bake. In the Italian home bread is never wasted. With leftover bread you can make breadcrumbs, toss it into a salad or broken into your soup.
The Daring Kitchen challenge for the month of May was hosted by Tandy of  Lavender and Lime who challenged us to make our own filled bread using ingredients we love the most. Tandy gave us a bread recipe but gave us free reign as long as the bread was shaped and twisted in her particular way. I flavoured the dough with smoked paprika and filled it with my homemade pizza sauce mix, smoked cheese and bacon.  And yes, it was a hit! Thanks Tandy!

Bacon and Cheese Twist Bread with Smoked Paprika

3/4 – 1 cup water
1 x 7g packet active dried yeast
450g bread flour
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
40 g sugar
1 egg

40 mls olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

tomato puree flavoured with fresh garlic, oregano and salt
diced bacon
smoked cheese, grated

1.Activate the yeast in the water for 5 minutes first. Then place the flour, yeast and water mixture, smoked paprika, sugar, egg and oil into a stand mixer bowl
2. Use a dough hook and knead for 1 minute
3. Add the salt and knead for a further 5 minutes
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface
5. Knead gently and shape into a ball
6. Rub the bowl with a little bit of oil
7. Place the dough back into the bowl, seam side down
8. Cover and leave to prove until doubled in size
9. Lightly oil your hands and punch back the dough
10. Cover and prove for 1 hour
11. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface
12. Knock back and roll out into a rectangle

13. Spread the dough with tomato puree, sprinkle on bacon and cheese to your liking.

14. Roll up tightly, lengthwise
15. Trim off the edges ( I didn’t trim the edges, can’t stand waste!)
16. Cut in half, down the middle, but not going all the way to the bottom

17. Slightly open the two halves
18. Twist the dough to resemble a length of rope

19. Shape into a circle
20. Place onto a lined or sprayed baking tray
21. Cover dough with a damp cloth and leave to prove for 30 minutes
22. Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas Mark 5
23. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle on the poppy seeds

24. Bake for 10 minutes
25. Reduce the temperature to 175°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4
26. Bake for a further 45 minutes
27. Remove from the oven and leave on the tray for 15 minutes
28. Place onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely before cutting

Last month I celebrated a milestone - my 50th birthday!…
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