Basil, Parmesan and sun-dried tomato bread recipe

This is based on an American recipe which 
won best overall bread in 
 the National Festival of Breads in Kansas a decade ago. It’s known in my house as ‘pizza bread’ and makes a meal with a salad of griddled courgettes, ricotta, torn mozzarella and basil.

When slicing through the rolled dough, you are aiming to expose some of the filling inside: cut 1-1.5cm deep

Prep time: 40 minutes, 
plus 2 hours proving time | Cooking time: 40 minutes

MAKES

1 loaf

INGREDIENTS

  • 375g plain white bread flour (or as needed)
  • 20g fresh yeast
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 70ml lukewarm water (you may need more)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 115ml lukewarm milk
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 75g grated Parmesan
  • 120g sun-dried tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 20g basil, torn

METHOD

  1. Put the flour and 1½ tsp salt into a large bowl. Put the yeast and sugar into a small bowl and add a little of the water. Stir and leave this somewhere warm for 15 minutes. The mixture should become frothy.
  2. Create a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture. Stir to gradually mix the flour into the yeast, adding the egg, milk, olive oil and water as you mix. You might not need all the water. Bring everything together, adding more flour or warm water as you need it, then knead the dough either by hand or in a mixer with a dough hook. The dough needs to be smooth and elastic.
  3. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to sit somewhere warm until doubled in size (this usually takes an hour, 
but it can take more).
  4. Knock back the dough. 
On a lightly floured surface, roll it with a rolling pin – don’t press hard – into a rectangle measuring 22 x 32cm, or as near to that as possible. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and lay the dough on this. Scatter the Parmesan, tomatoes, garlic and basil over the surface, leaving a 2cm border all 
the way round. Working with one of the long sides facing you, roll the dough up like a Swiss roll. Keep the seam underneath.
  5. Using kitchen scissors, slice lengthways along the top of the dough – but not right through it – starting 2cm in from one end and finishing 2cm in from the other end. Make the dough into an S shape by pulling one end into the centre of the dough, then the other end, tucking the ends underneath the loaf. It will look like a figure of eight when you’ve finished. Cover and leave somewhere warm so that it can double in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180C/
170C fan/gas mark 4.
  7. Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, covering it with foil after 20 minutes (the tomatoes can burn). When you tap the loaf on the bottom, it should sound hollow. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.

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