The first few weeks of lockdown my boyfriend and I ate like we were on holiday, after weeks of questioning our weight gain and feeling sluggish we decided it was likely our diet, so poor diet no more!
We have been calorie counting our meals and learning portion control over the last few weeks. Portion control is a skill I have never possessed and probably never will unless I follow a recipe with two servings and two servings only! Even though this isn’t really a diet, with any food restricting adventure you go on you have to have cheat days. As I am still furloughed and my boyfriend is an essential worker, our cheat days are dictated by his days off – normally two a week. On a cheat day we do not calorie count, we eat whatever we want without any regrets. So without further ado, here is our absolute favourite cheat day meal…
As this is a longer blog post I will be splitting this into two posts. I want people to actually read my blog and not get bored!
All components are homemade (apart from the cheese obviously, although would love to learn how to make cheese) but I made the chutney before I started blogging, when we make more I will be sure to blog it! We have three jars so it will be a while.
DELICIOUS BREAD RECIPE
- 500g Bread Flour (Plus extra for kneading)
- 25g Butter (Softened)
- 1 1/4 Tsp Salt
- 7g Yeast (I used pre-measured sachets)
- 300ml warm water
- 2 Tsp Sugar (Optional but it gives a better flavour and crunchy crust)
- Bacon Rashers or Lardons
- Cheddar Cheese
STEP 1: In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt and sugar, then rub in the butter until it is a breadcrumb like texture. As there isn’t a large amount of butter it will be very flour like, this step just to break the butter up a bit.
STEP 2: Add 300ml of warm water and gently stir until the mixture forms a soft dough. Sometimes I have to add a little extra water so it is best to measure 300ml and pour it in the bowl and then go back and get more: this way you don’t overwater your mixture. The dough should be tacky to touch but not sticky.
STEP 3: Knead the mixture for ten minutes by hand (or five minutes in an electric mixer with a bread attachment – I don’t know the technical name). I believe you are supposed to do this out of the bowl but I don’t like having to clean the flour mess up twice so I knead it in the bowl. I don’t know if this makes much difference but it seems to work. I have made this bread quite a few times and it is always best to not cheat the kneading, do it for the full 10 minutes by hand, no mater how much your arms ache!
When kneading in the bowl, I push the dough to the outside of the bowl and then fold it in on itself and repeat this for the full ten minutes. This is probably the worst kneading technique ever, sorry to anyone who knows how to knead well!
STEP 4: After the kneading, shape the dough into a nice even ball. Then hold a clean tea towel under the hot tap (don’t burn yourself) and ring it out so that you have a warm damp tea towel and cover your dough in the bowl. Then place it in a warm location and let it prove (I think that is the right word, I have heard it used on Great British Bake Off) for an hour and a half until two hours, the dough should double in size. If you have a proving oven, put it in there, although I don’t know how long for as I don’t have one. If you do have one you are probably a professional chef so you are on your own for timings.
STEP 5: Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees – DON’T FORGET TO DO THIS. Normally I forget this step and then get frustrated when I open the oven door to put the bread in and it is cold. But this time I remembered and took this as my win of the day – I can go to bed feeling like something went right!
STEP 6: Once your bread has doubled in size, flour a large flat surface and flop the dough out onto it. Grab your rolling pin or cylinder shaped object and flour that too – I used an old but empty bottle of alcohol until about a year ago when I bought a rolling pin, I would always forget to buy it when shopping. Roll your dough out super gently into a square like shape that is approximately one centimetre thick (I rolled mine waaaay too thin this time so my bread was slightly flat -_-).
STEP 7: Look at the square-ish rolled out dough, imagine it in equal thirds vertically and then score the first and third ‘thirds’ at a 45 degree angle at inch intervals. You need an equal number of slices on each side, it doesn’t matter how many there are, it just needs to be the same. This is really hard to explain, hopefully the picture in STEP 8 helps. I should learn how to make recipe videos, that would be significantly easier for you.
STEP 8: Fry a few bacon rashers and grate some cheese. I don’t have exact quantities because it seems to change every time, I aim for enough filling for the middle third of my square-is rolled out dough. If that makes any sends at all! Wow, explaining things is not going well today…
Add the fillings to the middle third, leaving a gap at the top and the bottom of the dough. You can use any fillings you want, our household is just a bacon and cheese loving one!
Hopefully the picture above clears up STEP 7‘s awful description of how to cut the first and third ‘thirds’ of the square-is rolled out dough.
STEP 8: Cut the top two corners off the bread to make the braiding easier. From the top fold the top section you left empty over the filling, then wipe some water over the top of the folded dough. Sometimes I use the bacon grease if my hands are messy and I forgot to get some water handy, some may say it is gross, I say it is practical.
Next you need to complete a ‘mermaid braid’ like motion, you do this by folding the left dough slice over the filling in the middle and then folding the right dough slice over the filling and the left dough slice, then repeat this until you are 80% of the way through. Work from top to bottom.
Again, if my descriptions are not helping, hopefully this picture helps. Maybe I should turn my recipes into Ikea Instruction Manuals, no words, just images!
STEP 9: Once you are 80% of the way through your braid, fold the bottom part of the dough that was left empty over the filling, I had to cut this in half as I left too much and the bread would have been too bulky at the end. Then continue with the braiding method until you run out of dough slices. Use water (or bacon grease) to help stick any dough slices that are not touching the filling, just dough on dough.
This braiding technique took a while to master, I don’t even feel that I have mastered it and I have been making this bread for a few years. It is easy to do but isn’t easy to make perfect.
STEP 10: Transfer the bread to a baking tray, this is quite tricksy and you have to be super careful, using a large spatula helps. Don’t forget t grease or line the tray with baking paper. Bake the bread for approximately 30 minutes, I recommend checking it at 20 minutes just to make sure it isn’t burning, this way you can take it out if needs be or continue to check it. I often find that my oven seems to burn food despite being in the middle of the oven, at the recommended temperature and baked for the recommended time in a recipe.
The bread should look golden and make a nice hollow sound when you tap it. Once it has cooled slightly cut down the middle and give yourself a pat on the back for how delicious your bread looks.
I forgot to take a fresh out of the oven photo – sorry!
This bread is best served warm with some homemade salsa (which will be coming in another blog) and soured cream. A cheese and cracker board also complements it very well!
The bread is generally good for a couple of days if covered well.
Let me know if you have any bread recipes I can try! I am thinking that sourdough would be fun to do but I need to research this before trying it. From what I know about sourdough, I cannot just wing the recipe.
Email recipe suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you make this recipe tag @adultingwithhanna on Instagram or email me so that I can see your creations!