Written by Claire Goodwin

Food

The Great British Sandwich Week Challenge Day #1: The Bacon Butty

As sandwich shops and sandwich fans UK-wide embrace a week celebrating bread and its many fillings, we asked GBBO 2014 contestant Claire Goodwin to share a daily favourite.

Bacon sandwichSo, it’s British Sandwich Week and Standard Issue have challenged me to come up with five recipes – one a day – each showcasing the humble butty in all its glory (I’m aware there are seven days in a week, however, I’m assuming everyone orders takeaway on a weekend).

British Sandwich Week logoMy gauntlet is lined with baps and barmcakes, panino and tortilla; my butter knife is poised and my mayonnaise is sexily winking from its glassy lair. I’m ready to do culinary battle. Let’s sanger. (Made my own verb up there. Not just an average-looking baker.)

The first recipe is for a good old classic: the bacon butty. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I am going to show you how to place some bacon between two slices of bread.

And you’re 100% correct.

However, I am also going to show you how to make the bread. And that is the art of the humble butty – the divinity of the bread.

Making bread is one of the loveliest experiences you can have in your own home. It’s a sensory rollercoaster of an activity and the end reward is beautiful, tasty and very impressive. It’s cheap, requires no specialist equipment and exhibits to you the love you have put into it. I defy you not to fall in love with making your own bread.

Now, we knead to get on. *snorts*

Ooh, but before we do, here’s some credit where credit is due. This is a recipe from Paul Hollywood – I’m not sure where it is published, but it was given to me when I started the Bake Off process. The instructions are mine; I’ve learnt that process in baking is as much a science as the ingredients, so try to follow carefully.

Ingredients

500g strong white bread flour. I use Marriage’s Manitoba, but you can choose whatever you like as long as it is strong.
10g dried fast action yeast
10g salt
30ml olive oil, plus a little extra for kneading
300ml tepid water

Method

Before you start, clean your hands thoroughly. Dough will cling to everything in the initial stages of mixing. Take your rings off if you can and where possible, keep fingernails short and (obviously) clean. No-one wants boogers in their bread. Try also not to have your cuffs/watches/skanky festival wristbands from last summer dangling in the bowl. Can you hear me, every male chef on the tellybox? I really do mean you.

1. Weigh the flour in a bowl (or a flat work surface if you don’t have a bowl, though I urge you to find a vessel of some sort as until you’re practised and know your dough, it can get a bit messy) and make a well in the middle.

2. On one side of the flour, tip in your dried yeast.

3. On the other side, tip in your salt. Separating them at this point stops the adverse effect the concentration of salt can have on the yeast, effectively killing it and halting the leavening.

4. Tip your olive oil into the well.

5. Add around two thirds – 200ml – of your water.

6. Shape your hand into a claw (think the expressive hand of former X Factor contestant Diana Vickers) and tip the dry ingredients into the wet, combining all ingredients together. Use your claw to pull the mixture into the wetter parts.

7. Add your remaining amount of water once your mixture is clumping to bring it together.

8. As the dough starts to form a ball, you may relax your claw and start to squeeze the mixture together. All of the flour and yeast/salt should be incorporated and the sides of the bowl should be starting to clean off, the ball of dough picking up the remnants.

9. When you have a nice firm ball (snigger), it is time to get the mix out of the bowl and onto your work surface, in order to start kneading.

10. Prep your clean, dry work surface with a light trickle of olive oil. This should be enough to leave a film on your work top but not so much that you have pools or slicks on the surface. If you have too much you will end up with oily bread.

11. Place your dough on the work surface and start to knead – hold the end furthest away from you still and, with your other hand, pull up on the dough and then press back down again with the heel of your hand. You need to do this continuously for around ten minutes, rotating the dough as you go. Your aim is to get the dough nice and silky. This action gets the glutens stretching and elongating, which is the basis of lovely fluffy bread.

12. When you have achieved a silky dough, lightly oil a bowl and place the dough inside, covering with cling film. Leave in a warm place to prove. You are aiming for your dough to treble in size. Proving allows the chemical reaction of the yeast, salt and water to develop, creating carbon dioxide. This releases and makes the glutens puff up which gives you your volume and end texture.

13. Once the dough has proved, empty out of the bowl onto a lightly oiled surface. You now need to ‘knock back’ the mix. Press the dough with your fingertips until the air has knocked out, ready for its second prove. This creates light fluffy bread.

Risen bread dough in a tin14. Shape your dough mix on a lightly oiled tray or in a loaf tin and leave to re-prove, this time without cling film over so that it forms a skin.

15. When the dough has risen to two or three times its original size, score with a sharp knife. This helps the bread to rise more in the oven.

16. During the second prove, preheat your oven to 180ºC and place an oven tray on the bottom of the oven.

17. Place in the oven on the middle shelf. Before you close the door, pour a cup of water on the hot oven tray. This creates steam in the oven and gives your loaf a crispy top.

18. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped underneath.

19. Cool on a rack.

The finished bacon sandwich20. Cut two slices, butter and slather on sauce of choice.

21. Fry some bacon.

22. Build a butty.

23. OMNOMNOMNOMNOM.

@bake_therapist

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Written by Claire Goodwin

Claire is a speech therapist, baker, cake decorator, sometime radio guest and writer. She writes about food, being fat and living with mental health problems @bake_therapist; www.baketherapy.co.uk; www.facebook.com/CakeChemistryUK