The most delicious, morish, and – frankly – simple bread to make. It’s like eating sourdough but without having to care for a starter like it’s your youngest child. The crackling sound of the bread bursting out of its crust is glorious, while the butter is more addictive than anything you can imagine. If you’re just making the butter, or making it in advance, just do steps 4 and 8.
Makes one loaf and plenty of butter
- 470g strong white bread flour
- ½ tsp dried yeast
- 1 ¼ tsp fine salt
- 360ml water
- 2 heads garlic
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 4-5 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
- 225g unsalted butter at room temperature
- The day before serving, combine the flour, yeast, and fine salt in a mixing bowl. Add the water and mix together into a wet dough. No need to overwork it, just enough to incorporate the dry ingredients into one dough. Cover with cling film or a kitchen towel and leave in a warmish place overnight (room temperature is fine).
- 12-18 hours later (ideally 4 hours before serving) flour a surface and turn out the dough. It will be stringy and sticky. You may need to scrape the dough out of the bowl. Fold over once or twice (no need to knead, just shape into a ball) and leave for 15 mins.
- 15 minutes later, flour a cotton tea towel. Fold the dough over once or twice, shape into a ball again, and transfer to the tea towel. Dust the top with some flour and fold the sides of the tea towel on top of the dough to cover. You’ll leave it like this for 2 hours.
- For the garlic and rosemary butter, preheat the oven to 200oC. Slice the top centimetre or so off the garlic heads and place in separate squares of foil. Drizzle some olive oil on the garlic, add a pinch of salt and a crack of black pepper then encase the heads in the foil. Put the garlic in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes. Remove and leave to cool. Keep the oven on.
- Turn your oven to its highest temperature. 1h30 after putting your dough in the tea towel, place a cast iron casserole dish (with the lid on) in the oven.
- 30 minutes later take the pan out of the oven and turn the dough out of the tea towel and into the pan. Jiggle the pan to flatten out the dough. Cover with the lid and return to the oven for 45 minutes, removing the lid for the last 5-10 minutes.
- Take the pan out of the oven and turn the bread out onto a wire rack to cool for about 45 minutes. You should hear the bread begin to crackle.
- Meanwhile, squeeze the garlic cloves out of the heads into a mixing bowl before adding the butter and rosemary. Either using a stand mixer or a handheld electric whisk, whip the ingredients together until the butter is light and fluffy. Add salt to taste before serving with the bread.