I’m not usually one to gush but my Secret Santa gift was AWESOME. In my box of goodies I received a little packet of pistachio and sumac dukkah, some Madras style curry powder and a jar of pears preserved in red wine. All homemade!
To my Secret Santa, whoever he/she maybe, I apologise unreservedly. Unfortunately, a very slow South African postal service coupled with an impromptu trip back to the UK means I am only posting about this now. But the thought and care that went into the gift has certainly not gone unnoticed.
To sample the dukkah at its best, I decided to make a very simple French bread as an accompaniment. For some reason I always thought baguettes must be difficult to bake but this recipe is so unbelievably easy and yields a beautifully fluffy bread.
The recipe makes two baguettes. I ate one simply torn into pieces and dipped in olive oil and the wonderful homemade dukkah. The other I have stuffed with garlic butter and frozen for the weekend.
French Bread (adapted from Bread by Liz Herbert and the Women’s Institute)
- 350g white bread flour
- 115g plain white flour
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
- 300ml luke warm water
1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water. Mix to a soft dough.
2. Knead on an oiled surface for 10 minutes until smooth. Cover and leave until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours).
3. Split the dough into two even pieces. On a floured surface, lightly roll one portion of the dough into a rectangle about 35 x 25cm. Working from the longest side, roll the dough up into a sausage shape and place, seam side down, on a lined baking sheet. Tuck the ends under to neaten. Using a sharp knife, make deep diagonal slashes in the loaf at 6cm intervals. Repeat with the remaining dough. Leave to rest, uncovered, for another hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan and place a dish of boiling water on the bottom shelf. Dust the baguettes with flour and cook for 20 minutes until a deep golden brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack before serving.