Bread baking is a great activity to get the kids stuck into - there's no knead to involve knives, just ignore the mess and get those tiny hands kneading. Have a read through Jamie Oliver's "knead to knows" before having a go at the basic bread recipe below. Ready to advance to the next level? Roll on with Jamie's Rosemary Foccaccia and let the kids choose their own toppings. 

Jamie's "knead to know" about bread baking:

  • If you mix the dough by hand then expect it to be sticky. If you don’t like the dough sticking to your hands, coat them in a thin layer of oil and just keep mixing until the dough bonds together. If you hold the dough up and it doesn’t break apart, it’s ready.
  • You need to knead a dough for around 10 to 15 minutes. If the dough doesn’t come together properly, add a little more water. It’s better to have dough that’s slightly too wet rather than too dry because too much flour can make the bread tough inside. For this reason, try to avoid over-flouring the surface.
  • When leaving dough to prove, leave it in a warm place but cover it with a damp, clean tea towel to prevent air from getting to the dough. If air does get to it, it causes a skin to form on the top of it, which will prevent the dough from rising properly.
  • If you’re just beginning, hand-shaping a dough takes more practice than using a tin. Half fill a loaf tin with dough and leave it to rise in a warm place until it is about two-thirds of the way up the sides of the tin. It will rise some more in the oven and pop over the edge of the tin for a traditional look.
  • If you’re making cuts in the top of your loaf then lightly oil the knife to stop it dragging across the dough.
  • If possible, cook your loaf in the centre of the middle shelf of the oven. If it is too close to either side of the oven it could split on one side.

Basic bread recipe

Ingredients (makes 1 loaf) 

1kg strong flour,
or wholemeal strong flour

30g fresh yeast

Method


  1. Making a well: Put the flour in a bowl and make a large well in the centre. Pour around 310ml of tepid water into the well, then add the yeast, 1 level teaspoon of salt and stir with a fork.
  2. Getting it together: Slowly bring in the flour from the inside of the well, being careful not to break the walls of the well. Continue to bring the flour into the centre until you get a stodgy consistency – then add another 310ml of tepid water. Continue to mix until it’s stodgy again, then bring in all the flour, making the mix less sticky. With floured hands bring it together into a ball of dough.
  3. Kneading: Knead on a flour-dusted surface for 4 to 5 minutes until you have a silky and elastic dough.
  4. First prove: Flour the top of the dough and place in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and allow it to prove for about half an hour until doubled in size in a warm, moist, draught-free place.
  5. Second prove, flavouring and shaping: Once the dough has doubled in size, knock the air out for 30 seconds by bashing it and squashing it. Shape it or flavour it as required – folded, filled, tray-baked – and leave it to prove for a second time for 30 minutes to an hour until it has doubled in size once more.
  6. Cooking your bread: Preheat the oven to 200ºC/410ºF/Gas 6. Gently place your dough onto a flour-dusted baking tray and into the preheated oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked and golden brown. You can tell if it’s cooked by tapping its bottom – if it sounds hollow it’s done, if it doesn’t then pop it back in for a little longer. Once cooked, place on a rack and allow it to cool for at least 30 minutes.


Jamie's top tips:
 certain flours need a little more or a little less water so feel free to adjust as necessary. All ovens vary so you may have to adjust the temperature of your oven to get the perfect bake. 


Rosemary Focaccia 

Ingredients (makes 1 loaf)

325g strong bread flour

150g Italian tipo “00” flour

Extra virgin olive oil

15g fresh yeast

Vegetable oil

1 sprig of rosemary

Method

  1. Combine the bread flour, 00 flour, yeast, 200ml of tepid water, 65ml of extra virgin olive oil, yeast and a good pinch of sea salt in a mixing bowl and knead gently for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth.
  2. Cover the mixing bowl and leave to rest in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  3. While the dough is rising, prepare a baking tray by lightly oiling the base and sides with vegetable oil.
  4. Transfer the dough to the baking tray. Spread out evenly using the palm of your hands and gently expel the air from the dough, then rub 15ml of extra virgin olive oil over the surface of the dough using your fingertips.
  5. ‘Dimple’ the dough ensuring that you don’t press all the way through to the base. Rip up your rosemary leaves and poke them gently into the bread.
  6. Cover the dough again and leave to rest for a further 20 to 40 minutes, or until is has doubled in size.
  7. Pre-heat oven to 200ºC/410ºF/Gas 6.
  8. Place the baking tray in the pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Once cooked, carefully remove from the oven and drizzle with a little more extra virgin olive oil. Serve warm or cold with a small bowls of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Jamie's top tip: this focaccia is just as delicious if the rosemary is substituted with a sprinkle of sea salt. 

With thanks to Jamie Oliver's Cookery School for providing the tips and recipes. Photo by Jamie Oliver's Cookery School