I’m avoiding my neighbour at the moment. As the owner of a small business, he doesn’t get many holidays in the year and is, understandably, very envious of my seven weeks of summery freedom. He has listened jealously to my travel plans every July since I moved in and has almost seemed to live vicariously through my continual jet setting. Sweden, Finland, Greece, France, Portugal, Denmark: and that’s just the past few years.
For a long time now, time off for me has meant time travelling in other countries.
This summer, though, things are different. Not only have I gone no further than the west coast of Scotland during this whole month, I even haven’t missed being in foreign lands. All I wanted to do this summer was to get a dog and to make that dog as happy and as settled as a creature could be. I think I’ve done that now and do you know what? I’ve had the greatest time doing it.
So why the neighbour avoidance? Well, he thinks I’m wasting my summer and that I should be out there “living it up”. I don’t know how to explain to him that that’s exactly what I am doing, especially when one of the things that has got me really excited in the past few weeks is learning to bake bread.
Suspect that many of you guys will understand though and so I share with you my most favouritest ever bread recipe. Adapted from a recipe in The Greens Cookbook, this deeply savoury loaf has a moist and almost cakey texture. It makes lovely thick cut sandwiches and superb cheese on toast but D and I can stop eating it with a generous smearing of very garlicky butter. Sublime.
Cottage Cheese and Oregano Bread
7g fast acting dry yeast
200ml warm water
1 tblspn honey
500g strong white flour
2 tblspns olive oil
1 small onion, very finely chopped
1 medium egg, beaten lightly
75g cottage cheese
1 tblspn dried oregano
1 tblspn salt
Egg wash (beaten egg plus a little milk)
- Whisk together the yeast, honey and water in a large bowl.
- Add 150g of the flour and mix hard with a spoon until a smooth batter is formed. Cover and leave for 45 minutes in a warm place until the batter has doubled in size and is bubbly.
- While the batter is expanding, fry the onion gently in a little olive oil until just soft. Leave to cool slightly.
- Add the onion, cottage cheese, oregano, salt, egg and olive oil to the batter. Mix gently.
- Gradually add the sifted flour to the batter, folding steadily, until a thick, stiff-ish dough is formed. You may not need the entire amount of flour.
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface and, with well floured hands, begin to knead the bread. Continue for approx. 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and shiny (it will still be a bit sticky).
- Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover. Leave for 45 minutes until dough has doubled in size then punch the dough down (fun). Repeat process.
- Punch the dough down a third and final time and place into an oiled loaf tin. Leave for 20 mins to rise again.
- Brush the risen dough with egg wash and place in a 180oC fan oven for 50 minutes or a non-fan for 60 mins. Being quite a dense loaf (hee hee), the bread will not sound hollow when tapped.
- Turn onto a wire rack and cool before slicing.