Mediterranean spiral loaf

    Mediterranean spiral loaf

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    3hr15min


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    About this recipe: This unusual loaf is made with a mixture of white and wholemeal flours, plus fennel seeds for a subtle, aniseed flavour. The dough is rolled up round a roasted vegetable filling, so when the loaf is sliced there is a colourful spiral running through it. It makes a great addition to a lunchbox – there’s no need to make sandwiches!

    Ingredients
    Serves: 12 

    • 250 g (8½ oz) strong white (bread) flour
    • 200 g (7 oz) strong wholemeal (bread) flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 sachet easy-blend dried yeast, about 7 g
    • ¼ tsp caster sugar
    • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
    • 300 ml (10 fl oz) semi-skimmed milk
    • 30 g (1 oz) butter
    • 2 red or yellow peppers, halved and seeded
    • 3 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
    • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
    • 3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

    Method
    Prep:2hr35min  ›  Cook:40min  ›  Ready in:3hr15min 

    1. Sift the white and wholemeal flours and the salt into a bowl, tipping in any bran left in the sieve. Stir in the yeast, sugar and fennel seeds. Make a well in the centre.
    2. Gently heat the milk with the butter until the butter melts. Cool slightly until tepid, then pour into the well in the flour mixture. Gradually draw the flour into the liquid to make a soft dough.
    3. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Shape into a ball, place in a greased bowl and cover with a damp tea-towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1–1 1/2 hours or until double 1/2 in size.
    4. Meanwhile, preheat the grill to high. Grill the pepper halves, skin side up, until slightly blackened. Place in a polythene bag and leave to cool, then peel off the skins. Slice the peppers into long strips.
    5. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock back, then knead briefly until smooth. Roll out into a 20 × 33 cm (8 × 13 in) rectangle. Spread with the sun-dried tomato paste, leaving a 1 cm (1/2 in) border clear all round, then top with the pepper strips and red onion slices, in one layer. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of the Parmesan cheese evenly over the top.
    6. Roll up the dough firmly from a short side, like a Swiss roll. Tuck the ends under and place in a lightly oiled 900 g (2 lb) loaf tin. Cover and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes or until risen and springy to the touch.
    7. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 230ºC (450ºF, gas mark 8). Uncover the loaf and cut several slashes across the top with a sharp knife. Brush with the olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tbsp Parmesan. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 200ºC (400ºF, gas mark 6). Bake for a further 20–25 minutes or until the loaf is risen and golden brown and sounds hollow when turned out and tapped on the base.
    8. Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool. This loaf is best eaten on the day it is made.

    Each slice provides

    A, C * B1, B6, calcium, selenium * B12, E, folate, niacin, copper, iron, zinc

    Some more ideas

    To make individual spiral rolls, roll out the dough into a rectangle as in the main recipe, then cut into 8 smaller rectangles. Fill and roll them up, place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 15–20 minutes or until risen and golden brown. * To make a garlic and herb spiral loaf, roll out the dough as in the main recipe and spread it with 2–3 crushed garlic cloves instead of the tomato paste. Replace the peppers and red onion with 2 tbsp each of chopped fresh basil, parsley, chives and spring onions. Instead of Parmesan, sprinkle the loaf with a little coarse sea salt before baking.

    Plus points

    Red peppers offer an impressive arsenal of disease-fighting compounds. In addition to being an excellent source of vitamin C and beta-carotene, they contain 2 other important phytochemicals, lutein and zeaxanthin. These are believed to help protect against the eye disease, age-related macular degeneration.

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