One of my good friends, who is known for her fabulous bread-making skills, came to London from France to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. She brought with her this amazing bread recipe that fit in wonderfully with the autumn-themed Thanksgiving holiday. It’s actually a Jamie Oliver recipe, and the official name is “Rolled bread of Parma ham, nice cheese, egg & basil”, although for simplicity’s sake I’ll be referring to it as the “Bread Ring Roll”. It is absolutely delicious and stuffed with an assortment of items that make it rustic, filling and beautiful to look at. Definitely a party pleaser.
Bread Ring Roll (from jamieoliver.com)
Basic Bread recipe:
- 1 kg strong bread flour
- 625 ml tepid water
- 30 g fresh yeast, or 3 x 7g sachets dried yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
- flour, for dusting
Stage 1: making a well
Pile the flour on to a clean surface and make a large well in the centre. Pour half your water into the well, then add your yeast, sugar and salt and stir with a fork.
Stage 2: getting it together
Slowly, but confidently, bring in the flour from the inside of the well. (You don’t want to break the walls of the well, or the water will go everywhere.) Continue to bring the flour in to the centre until you get a stodgy, porridgey consistency – then add the remaining water. Continue to mix until it’s stodgy again, then you can be more aggressive, bringing in all the flour, making the mix less sticky. Flour your hands and pat and push the dough together with all the remaining flour. (Certain flours need a little more or less water, so feel free to adjust.)
Stage 3: kneading!
This is where you get stuck in. With a bit of elbow grease, simply push, fold, slap and roll the dough around, over and over, for 4 or 5 minutes until you have a silky and elastic dough.
Stage 4: first prove
Flour the top of your dough. Put it in a bowl, cover with cling film, and allow it to prove for about half an hour until doubled in size – ideally in a warm, moist, draught-free place. This will improve the flavour and texture of your dough and it’s always exciting to know that the old yeast has kicked into action.
Stage 5: second prove, flavouring and shaping
Once the dough has doubled in size, knock the air out for 30 seconds by bashing it and squashing it. You can now shape it or flavour it as required – folded, filled, tray-baked, whatever – and leave it to prove for a second time for 30 minutes to an hour until it has doubled in size once more. This is the most important part, as the second prove will give it the air that finally ends up being cooked into your bread, giving you the really light, soft texture that we all love in fresh bread. So remember – don’t fiddle with it, just let it do its thing.
Bread Ring Roll:
- 1 basic bread recipe
- 5 slices quality Parma ham
- 8 large free-range eggs, boiled for 8 minutes and shelled
- 200 g cheese (a mixture of Cheddar, Fontina, Parmesan), grated
- 2 handfuls fresh basil
- sun-dried tomatoes or plum tomatoes and olives, halved, optional
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Dust the dough with flour as you shape it into a long rectangle about 1cm/½ inch thick. This should end up being about 1 metre/39 inches long and about 18–20cm/7 or 8 inches wide.
Along the middle of the bread, lay out your Parma ham, eggs, cheese, basil and tomatoes and olives if you’re using them. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with pepper and a pinch of salt. Pull the dough over the filling so it forms what looks like a cannelloni shape. Then what you need to do is bring one end round to the other so that they join up. Pinch and pat the two ends together firmly to form a doughnut-shaped loaf. Transfer to a flour-dusted baking tin, allow to prove for 15 minutes, dust with flour and place in your preheated oven at 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4 for 35 minutes until golden. Allow to cool and then either transport to a picnic and carve it there – if you’re lucky, it will still be a little warm in the middle – or eat there and then. Fantastic.