Nick Cullen has a simple yet delicious bread recipe

THIS week marks Real Bread Week, the annual international celebration that encourages people to buy bread from independent bakers and bake their own bread at home. There are fewer independent bakeries around these days, with more people opting for the convenience of pre-packaged supermarket bread. However, there are still local bakers shops in business and it’s important to support them as much as we can to keep this age-old artisanal industry alive.

Real bread involves a few simple ingredients compared to the mass-produced loaves that often contain additives to prolong their shelf life and enhance their flavour and texture. And there’s nothing better than the smell of freshly baked bread or the taste of crusty home-made bread with a good slick of butter.

Baking your own bread is also an option if you have time; there’s something quite therapeutic and satisfying about producing your own loaf. It’s a great activity to do with children too, especially when they can enjoy a slice of their homemade produce at the end of it! Some bread baking does require time and patience if the recipe calls for lots of proving. However some recipes require none at all, like soda bread which is my favourite.

Today’s recipe is another favourite of mine that I normally serve alongside some Italian cured meats, olives and cheese. Or just enjoy it on its own as a snack – it’s delicious.


(makes 1 loaf)

250g strong white bread flour

1 tsp salt

1 sachet of fast action dried yeast

175ml lukewarm water

4 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

A few sprigs of fresh rosemary

Sea salt to finish

Extra olive oil for drizzling

Place the flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Gradually pour in the water and yeast and add half the olive oil. Bring everything together with a spoon before using your hands to create a ball of dough that has quite a sticky consistency.

Turn the dough out onto a flour surface and knead it for five minutes, stretching and turning the dough as you do so until its smooth and firm. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with cling film or a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour or so.

Once the dough had doubled in size, turn it out of the bowl and knead it briefly for a minute or two to knock some of the air out.

Grease and line a baking tray or shallow roasting dish and spread the dough out, pushing it into the corners so its even and fairly level. Push a few dimples into the dough with your fingers and stick the sprigs of rosemary into the holes.

Meanwhile, gently heat the remaining olive oil with the crushed garlic for a few minutes. Brush the garlic oil all over the dough and leave to rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 200c/Gas 6/400F. Once the dough has risen, sprinkle with some flakes of sea salt and bake for 20 minutes until golden and crusty on top.

Drizzle with a little extra olive oil before serving.