Mrs Bailey’s Party Bread
360g bread flour
8g instant yeast
112g lukewarm milk
75g lukewarm water
35g olive oil
Mix that all together and kneady-beat it for five minutes. Be aware, it makes a very sticky dough that’s horrible to handle; I use a stand mixer with the dough hook, and end up with something clinging tight to the floor of the bowl, halfway between a batter and a dough.
Work it into a ball with your fingers, splash a little olive oil into the bowl, roll it around till the ball is coated. Cover and leave for an hour or so. It’ll rise into the airiest of doughs. Deflate it gently, and spread it out on a board. At this stage, it’s suddenly lovely to work with; you can stretch it almost to translucence, and it’ll stay coherent and peel off anything. Shape it into an oblong about two foot long and ten inches wide. Give or take.
Pulp some garlic with a little olive oil, and spread that over the dough. Grate 200g of cheese [your call: I’m using Gruyere because I have a great block of it, but cheddar or parmesan would work fine, or half a hundred others] and scatter that over. Chop half a bunch of basil from the farmers’ market (or, y’know, the supermarket, or the garden, or…) and scatter that.
Roll it up like a long sausage, and pinch the seam and the ends closed. Put parchment paper on a baking tray, and lay the sausage thereon in an S-shape. Take kitchen scissors, and cut an inch deep, lengthwise, from one end to the other.
Now tuck the ends underneath to make a figure-8 or an infinity coil. Pinch things together a bit, cover and leave for an hour to rise.
Preheat an oven to 350F, and bake on a centre shelf for thirty-five or forty minutes. You might want to cover it with foil halfway through, to stop it overbrowning. (I have cooked it often, covered it about half as often; things vary, even in the best-regulated of ovens.)
Cool on a cooling thing, and eat warm or room temp.
You can find more of Mrs Bailey’s recipes here: