5 recipes to delight bread-lovers

garlic knots3

If you love bread, you need to know how to make your own.

For those new to homemade bread, the Pullman loaf is the perfect introduction. It has a soft crust and a moist centre, and while it may look like the familiar processed sliced loaf, it is cheaper, has better flavour and, more importantly, it is better for your guts without the additives and preservatives of industrial bread.

The bread is baked in a Pullman loaf tin, which has straight sides and a slide-on lid. It yields a loaf that has perfectly flat sides and square corners. The lid prevents the bread from expanding freely and forming large bubbles, so there are no big holes in the crumb – since this bread shape is ideal for sandwiches, it helps that the condiments and sauces don’t drip out.

You can easily make bread by hand and do it without strenuous kneading, if that is a concern. The past decade or so has seen the rise of the “stretch and fold” method, in which the handling of the dough is gentle and minimal. The process takes a little longer, but the time is mostly spent with the dough resting. See the recipe for instructions.

Once you have your Pullman bread, put it to use in two of the best things since sliced bread: Bostock, a sweet nutty pastry; and dim sum favourite, prawn toasts.

You will also find an olive oil dough recipe here. It is used to make garlic knots, and is also perfect for pizza and focaccia.

Finally, there’s Peshwari naan, a flatbread filled with a fruit and nut mixture.


Makes 1 loaf

430g bread flour, plus extra for dusting

30g unsalted butter, softened

30g milk powder

2 tsp fine salt

11/2 tsp instant yeast

220ml-250ml tepid water

30ml honey

The following instructions are for preparing the dough by hand. Use a stand mixer if you prefer.

Place the flour in a mixing bowl and rub in the butter. Stir in the milk powder, salt and yeast.

Start with the lesser amount of water. Combine it with the honey and add to the mixing bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon to bring all the ingredients together into a rough clump. Add the extra water if there are still dry bits in the bowl. Press the dough into a ball. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and set aside for 20 minutes for the flour to hydrate.

Press the dough in the bowl to flatten slightly. Take the edge furthest from you, stretch it without tearing and fold it into the centre. Give the bowl a clockwise quarter-turn and again stretch and fold (S&F) the furthest edge towards the centre. Do the S&F 8-10 times; you will end up with a smooth ball. This should take only about 10 seconds.

Cover the bowl and rest for 10 minutes. Repeat the S&F twice more at 10-minute intervals. Be gentle, there’s no need to punch all the air out of the dough. You will feel the dough getting smoother and more elastic each time. After the final S&F, cover the bowl and leave the dough to proof, 45 minutes.

Lightly grease a 20x10x10cm Pullman loaf tin. Transfer the risen dough to a lightly dusted work surface; pat it out into a rough 20cm square. Roll tightly into a log and place, seam side down, in the tin.

You can let it rise at room temperature, but to develop flavour, place the tin in a large plastic bag, ensuring that it does not touch the top of the dough, twist the ends of the bag to secure and place the tin in the fridge for 8 hours to rise slowly.

Remove the bread from the fridge 30 minutes before baking. If the dough has not risen to within 1cm of the top of the pan, leave it at room temperature to rise further.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Slide on the lid and bake the bread for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and turn the loaf out onto a rack to cool.

Tip: To store, slice the bread, put the slices into an air-tight freezer-safe bag and place in the freezer. Reheat from frozen in the oven at 180ºC for six to eight minutes.


Makes 4

4 slices (cut 2cm thick) from a Pullman loaf

100g flaked almonds

icing sugar

Orange syrup1 large orange

1/2 cup caster sugarAlmond cream40g unsalted butter, at room temperature

50g caster sugar

1 egg, whisked, at room temperature

50g almond meal

1 tsp orange zest

To make the orange syrup

Wash the orange and wipe dry. Use a vegetable peeler to pare strips of zest from the orange. Juice the orange. Place in a measuring jug and top up with water to 1/2 cup. Pour into a small saucepan with the zest and sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer until syrupy, 3-5 minutes. Leave to cool.

To make the almond cream

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Keep beating and add the egg slowly. Add the almond meal and zest and mix into a smooth paste. Place in a container, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Makes enough for 8-10 slices of bostock. The leftover will keep in the fridge for a few days.

To make the bostock

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet. Brush the tops liberally with the orange syrup. Spread evenly with almond cream. Scatter flaked almonds over the top. Bake until golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.


Makes 4

Yoghurt dough

130g all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp caster sugar

2 tbsp plain yoghurt

2-4 tbsp water


2 tbsp grated fresh coconut

2 tbsp dried cranberries or raisins

2 tbsp pistachios or almonds

To make the dough

Mix all the ingredients together into a soft, non-sticky dough. Cover and rest for 2 hours.

Place all the filling ingredients into a mini food processor and grind into a coarse powder, or finely chop by hand.

To make the naan

Divide the dough into four and form each one into a circle about 8cm wide. Divide the filling into four and place one portion in the centre of each dough circle. Fold the edge of the dough over the filling, enclosing it, and form into a ball. Roll out each ball into a 0.5cm-thick teardrop shape.

Heat a large frying pan over high heat until very hot. Brush or spray one side of the naans with water and place water side down in the pan. Put a lid on the pan and turn the heat down to medium. Cook until the bottom is brown in spots and bubbles appear on the top. Flip the naan over and brown the other side. Transfer to a plate and brush with ghee if you like. Serve with curry or chutney.


Makes about 30

Olive oil dough

330g bread flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp caster sugar

1/2 tbsp instant yeast

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

200-225ml tepid water

The following instructions are for preparing the dough by hand. Use a stand mixer if you prefer.

Combine the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and the lesser amount of water to the mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to bring all the ingredients together into a rough clump. Add the extra water if there are still dry bits in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and set aside for 20 minutes for the flour to hydrate.

Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly oiled work surface and knead by hand until smooth and elastic, eight to ten minutes. Alternatively, knead the dough using the stretch-and-fold method as in the recipe for the Pullman loaf.

Form the dough into a ball and return to the bowl. If you cannot wait, cover the bowl and leave at room temperature until the dough is puffy, 60-90 minutes. However, the dough is easier to handle if chilled, so put the mixing bowl into a large plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.

Transfer the risen dough from the bowl to a clean work surface. Divide it into 3 or 4. Working with one portion at a time, gently pat the dough into a 1cm-thick rectangle. Using a sharp knife or bench scrapper, cut out 15cm lengths about the thickness of your little finger. Make a loose knot in the centre of each piece and place 2cm apart on baking sheets lined with baking paper. Cover each sheet with a tea towel and leave for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven at 180ºC. Bake the knots until light brown and the surface is crisp, 10-12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and set aside while you make the garlic-parsley dressing.

Garlic-parsley dressing

4 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp minced garlic (5-6 large cloves)

4 tbsp minced fresh parsley

salt to taste

Heat the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the minced garlic. Stir occasionally until aromatic but don’t allow the garlic to brown.

Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Stir in parsley and salt.

Add the baked bread knots to the bowl and toss until coated with the dressing. Leave knots in the bowl for 2 minutes to soak up the dressing. Serve warm.


Makes 24 pieces

6 thin slices of Pullman loaf bread

4 tbsp sesame seeds

vegetable or canola oil for shallow frying

Prawn paste

250g shelled and deveined prawns

1 clove garlic

1 egg white

11/2 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp fish sauce

2 tsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp pepper

2 tsp sesame oil

1 large stalk spring onion, finely minced

1 large red chilli, finely minced

To make the prawn paste

Pat the prawns dry and place with garlic, egg white, soy sauce, fish sauce, cornstarch, pepper and sesame oil in a food processor. Pulse until it forms a sticky paste. Alternatively, chop the prawns and garlic together until fine and sticky and combine with the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Stir in the spring onion and chilli. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

To make the toastsIf you like, cut off the crusts from the bread. Spread one side of each slice evenly with prawn paste right up to the edge. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and lightly press into the paste. Cut each slice on the diagonal into 4 triangles.

Heat 2cm of oil in a frying pan to 190ºC. Working in batches, fry the toasts paste side down until golden brown, 60-90 seconds.

Adjust heat if the toasts brown too quickly. Flip the toasts over and cook until brown, about 60 seconds.
 Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel and repeat with the remaining toasts. Serve immediately with your choice of sauce.

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