This is a seasonal recipe adapted from, of all things, BBC Good Food's pizza base recipe. The quantities provide a really great and very forgiving white bread base which is quite adaptable and can be flavoured with just about anything. I've even done a banana and chocolate bread which was pretty damn good - but I need to test that recipe a few more times before I share it (how will I cope!)
The recipe was basically dreamed up, like most of my recipes, when I discovered a solitary leftover ingredient in my fridge that I didn't know what to do with - in this case a parsnip. I was going through an obsessive bread making phase - I tend to go through obsessive phases with all my hobbies - and decided I would try to find a way to get delicious parsnip and delicious bread to become besties. I wanted that crispy parsnip flavour, rather than the woody undercooked flavour parsnip can sometimes have, and soft, fluffy bread.
The recipe may seem a little bit fiddly if you haven't made a lot of bread before, and if so, it's probably best to try it on a quiet afternoon, if you ever have one, so you can take your time. If you are an experienced bread maker this one should be a piece of cake. Except it'll be made of bread.
Makes a 16 doughball tear and share
300g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon instant/easy-bake yeast
200ml warm water
1/2 small red onion, chopped finely
1 small parsnip, grated (large gauge)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon uncooked semolina or pasta flour
the flour into a bowl, and stir in the salt and dry yeast. In a pan,
fry the chopped onion in 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil until the pieces
are soft and going transparent, then add in the grated parsnip. Stir
continuously until the parsnip is soft and starting to brown. Set aside.
Put a handful of flour on your work surface and spread it out a little.
all the water (don't be shy) and half a tablespoon of the olive oil to
the bowl of flour, yeast and salt. Stir as much as you can with a spoon,
and then gather the mixture together with your hands.
it is all stuck together, pick it up and put it on the floured worktop.
The mixture may be a little sticky, but try to resist the urge to add
flour until it is well mixed.
After 3 - 5 minutes of kneading, (during which
you can add flour to make it more workable) your dough should be feeling
smooth and it should all have the same consistency. It should start to
feel a little silky as the glutens are released, rather than sticky.
out the dough a little on the worktop. Scoop the onion and parsnip from
the pan and put it onto one half of the dough. Fold the dough over the
veg, seal the edges together roughly and knead again until it’s well
distributed (1-2 mins). You may need to add a little flour as the dough
will be a little sticky/oily at this stage.
bottom of a dish (about 12-15cm square will do, or you can use a large
solid bottom cake tin) lightly with semolina. Divide the dough into 4,
then each quarter into quarters. Using your hands, roll the dough into
balls. Place in the balls of dough on top of the semolina – they should
be just touching. Drizzle with the last of the olive oil.
about 2 mugs of boiling water into the bowl you mixed the dough in, and
rest the tin or dish on top. If the bowl is the wrong shape, use the
pan instead. Cover both with a dry teatowel. After 20 - 25 minutes or so,
they should be nearly doubled in size and all puffed together (and your
bowl or pan will be a lot easier to wash up!) Preheat the oven to
Grind salt over the top of the bread, and pop it in
the oven and bake for about 15 -20 minutes. You may need to turn the
dish after 10 minutes to ensure it cooks evenly. It is done when the
doughballs are well risen and the tops are all browned.
Really nice served warm with a little butter. Yes, butter. Go on - just a little bit.