Pagnotta con finocchietto (Farmhouse loaf encrusted with fennel seeds)

On Sunday morning I decided to make some bread. (You may have noticed that I like making bread. It’s easy to do and immensely satisfying when you’re sitting there, eating your own, home-made bread. I do have a bread maker but I don’t think I’ve used it once since getting the Italian Home Baking book!) I wanted to go for one from the Gino D’Acampo book that I’d not made before and also one that was nicely crusty to go with the sausage casserole I was planning on making for dinner.
I chose this one as it looked nice and didn’t take too long. (another one I liked the look of required 2-3 hours to rise!) This loaf contains fennel seeds, however, I didn’t have any and am not really keen on the taste of fennel anyway. Fortunately the recipe itself suggested substituting poppy seeds for fennel seeds so that’s what I did. (I suppose that the name should, therefore, be ‘Pannotta con semi di papavero* or something like that) (*I just popped that into Google translate – I don’t speak Italian!)

Anyway, it’s a nice recipe and produces a nice, light, crusty  loaf.

450g strong white flour

1 teaspoon of salt, plus extra for topping

1 tablespoon of caster sugar

10g of dried, fast acting, yeast

1 tablespoon of fennel (or poppy) seeds, crushed (Don’t crush the poppy seeds – they’re tiny as it is. And they get everywhere!)

280ml of warm water

30g of salted butter, melted

1 egg white

Olive oil for brushing

Brush a baking tray and a large bowl with oil.

Sift the flour into a large bowl with the salt, sugar and yeast.

Make a well in the centre

Sprinkle over half a teaspoon of seeds.

Pour in the mixed warm water and melted butter.

Mix into a soft dough. (this one gets really sticky so I start off the mixing with a wooden spoon before going on to use my hands.)

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. (This one remains slightly sticky throughout so it’s good to have extra flour to hand.)

Shape into a ball and place in the oiled bowl.

Cover with cling film and leave to rise for an hour in a warm, draft-free place.

Turn out onto a floured surface and punch down. Shape into an oval loaf and place on the oiled baking tray.

Brush the top with a little oil, cover with cling film and leave to rise for another 40 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 220.

Mix the egg white with a pinch of salt.

Brush the top of the loaf with the egg white and then sprinkle with the remaining seeds. With a sharp knife to make a cut right down the length of the loaf.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes reduce the heat to 180 and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Delicious served warm with cheese and ham.

Also goes really nicely with a rich sausage casserole. Hey – guess what recipe I’m writing up next!?

Poppy Seed Bread 2

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About neilche

Hi. My name's Neil. I live in Brighton with my flatmate Alberto and I work as a Librarian at a local college. I like cooking, eating and socialising with friends. Which is what prompted me to start this blog. I cycle everywhere around town - it helps to work off the calories!
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