Keep Discovering - Bread Making Challenge

Posted on 21/02/16

Inspiring people with food is the ethos of Seasoned.  Within the team we all have annual foodie ambitions to ‘keep discovering’ new types of food.

My culinary ambition for last year was to improve my bread making.  Harriet’s was to improve her food photography, Steph’s was to master Persian & Middle eastern food and Tania’s was to perfect Thai & Malaysian food at home.  Running a cookery school can’t be all work and no play can it?!!

There are several things that prompted me to take up the ‘bread challenge’…..

  1. Home-made bread (when mastered) is incomparable to that which you can buy in a supermarket in my opinion.  Living in the middle of the countryside our ‘local’ bakery is at least an hours round trip in the car.
  2. Having taken a step back from the running of the cookery school after having my little girl, I now spend more time at home and proving bread can fit in around other jobs.
  3. I am a ‘no preserves’ kinda girl. It bothers me what is pumped into mass produced bread in order to extend the  shelf life & the associated digestive orders that are on the rise.


bread making



How I’ve ‘kept discovering’ throughout my bread making journey….


Flavoursome Focaccia

My first bread to master was focaccia – inspired by Tim Maddam’s Wild Garlic focaccia.  Why was this my first? Because you don’t have to be a pro at shaping!  Simply ‘squishing’ the beautifully proved dough and drizzling with ‘liberal’ amounts of Olive oil gets you the most magnificent result – a crowd pleaser for friends at lunchtime with soup, antipasti & cheese.

Scrumptious Soughdough

Next on the agenda was soughdough.  I was attracted by the unique aroma of toasted soughdough and the simplicity of poached eggs on this ‘king of breads’ for breakfast.  My husband farms free range laying hens, so eggs, in a variety of formats are an easy & economical meal for friends.   I love the fact that soughdough can rise overnight in proving baskets and all the hard work & shaping is done for you.


My triumph – I was really pleased with how bread making fitted into my life – when I got back from work I’d put the dough onto mix (in my Kenwood) whilst I was prepping up Pippa’s tea.  The first prove then took place during the evening & I’d simply pop the bread into proving baskets before bed & as if by magic everything was ready to go by the morning. My favourite soughdough recipe is a light rye loaf with fennel seeds and green olives – simply delicious!


My mistake – it took me several attempts to get the right temperature for the overnight prove.  The kitchen was too warm & by morning the dough was too runny.  Proving in the fridge didn’t give enough rise, but proving in a cool pantry was, for me, just the right temperature.



Creative Crossiants & Versatile Viennoiserie

I went on a croissant-making course as I truly love discovering new types of foods.  So, after a day of rolling, batting & shaping I have made them once a month ever since & freeze them (unbaked) ready for delicious weekend breakfasts.  I think this point is key – if you want to learn & discover a new type of food, you have to be prepared to practice.  You wouldn’t expect yourself, or your children to go to one piano lesson and then become a concert pianist.  So you can’t expect to try something once & succeed (although it’s great if you do!).



My triumphs – I have experimented with different fillings – raspberry Crème pâtissière for my take on pain aux raisins (pain aux frombroise?!) and made crème pat with mango purée for an exotic twist.  Next on my list is to experiment with savoury versions – parmesan béchamel with olives & sundried tomatoes – delicious!

My mistakes – have been mainly shaping related – too big, too small, too wiggly….. practice, in this instance makes perfect!


Whats next?!  A Couronne, seeds & shaping! 

My aspirations are to conquer my bread shaping fears, try more free form loaves and to continue playing with additional flavours – seeds in loaves, stuffed breads and Indian parathas.   When Food Unearthed asked for recipes that represent their #keepdiscovering aim, this recipe was the culmination of their beautiful ingredients & my 2016 bread making aspirations!




Olive & Antipasti Couronne 

(Serves 4-6 for lunch with additional antipasti)



500g Strong white bread flour

7g Dried Yeast

1tsp table salt

400ml tepid water

3 tablespoons of good quality olive oil

1 tsp fennel seeds – bruised with a pestle and mortar


For the filling: 

1 selection packet of Food Unearthed Antipasti / Serrano Ham

1 pack of Food Unearthed Olives with Provolone / Olives and Gouda – chopped roughly




1) Mix the bread ingredients together in a Kenwood on a slow speed to combine the water & start the kneading process.  Knead until smooth and the gluten has started to form (6-8 minutes).


2) Knead for a minute or two on the work surface & shape into a nice ball, before putting back into the Kenwood bowl, greased lightly with olive oil.  Cover loosely with a clear bag / cling film and allow to prove in a warm place until doubled in size (approximately 1-1.5 hours).


3) Tip out the dough onto a work surface, lightly greased with olive oil.  Roll gently into a 60x30cm rectangle, with the longest side facing you.  Spread the olives and the antipasti over the dough.  (Make sure you don’t fully cover the dough, otherwise it won’t be able to ‘stick together’ if you over fill it).


4) Roll up the dough tightly (like you would a swiss roll, or a swimming costume in a towel!).  Cut the dough in half lengthways (leaving the top 5 cm in tact).  This will expose the gorgeous filling.


5) Twist the two strands of dough together, allowing the filling to be exposed and the ends to come together to form a circle.  The dough will be more forgiving than you think – be confident!


6) Cover with a clear bag / lightly with oiled cling film and allow to prove for 45 minutes.  Heat the oven to 200 degrees C.


7)  Bake for 35 minutes or until the couronne looks a good golden colour and the base sounds hollow.


8) Leave to rest & then serve warm – with additional antipasti & a glass of crisp white wine for a delicious lunch!


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