2 mugs or 400g strong flour of your choice - I prefer half and half wholemeal and white
1/2 teaspoon salt
250ml (or 2/3 mug ) of lukewarm water (or increase the water to 280ml and use method B here)
1 rounded teaspoon fresh yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Place flour, salt and tomatoes in a mixing bowl, measure the water and stir in the fresh yeast. Once it is dissolved, add it to the flour, followed by the olive oil.
2. Have a little water to hand to add if necessary, remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with a knife, cutting through the dough. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand to squeeze the mixture together. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.
3. Knead by stretching the dough out, folding it over, stretching it out and so on and so forth. Do this until it is smooth – or until you get fed up!
4. Leave to prove for about an hour on your worktop, covered with a dry tea towel. Or place in an oiled plastic bag until you are ready for step 5.
5. When you are ready to proceed, knock the dough back and roll it out to about 3cm (1 inch) thick on a lightly floured worktop. Place it on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
6. Flour the top of the dough and make several separate cuts in the bread in any design you choose, using a sharp implement of your choice. I’ve used a dough cutter, a pizza cutter, a D-shaped spatula, and scissors for this, recently. Make sure the cuts don’t run into one another and, of course, don’t run over the edge of the dough. Stretch out the holes to define them more – the holes will try and close up if you’re not careful
7. Leave to prove, covered with a tea towel, until it has risen appreciably.
8. Bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for between 25-30 minutes.
Half a dozen chopped sun-dried tomatoes in the dough at step 1.
The same amount of bottled, grilled peppers folded in at the end of step 3.
A small handful of black olives similarly treated.