Great British Bread

GBBO 2015 is now over, the cakes have been eaten and the winner announced (Go Nadiya!). Rather than feel empty this Autumn as I search for something to replace my Wednesday night treat I’ve been inspired to bake!

I am following a low sugar diet at the moment so Paul Hollywood’s crusty loaf recipe is ideal… I thought I’d share it below so you can try it too (dip it in Olive Oil with a sprinkle of salt – heaven)…


  • 500g/1lb 1oz strong white bread flour, plus a little extra flour for finishing
  • 40g/1½oz soft butter
  • 12g/2 sachets fast action dried yeast
  • 10g/2tsp salt
  • About 300ml tepid water
  • A little olive or sunflower oil
  • Additional cold water, for creating steam in the oven


  • Weigh out the ingredients.
  • Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the butter. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and add the salt to the other – the salt will kill the yeast if they come into direct contact. Stir all the ingredients with a spoon to combine.
  • Add half of the water and turn the mixture round with your fingers. Continue to add water a little at a time, combining well, until you’ve picked up all of the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all of the water, or you may need to add a little more – you want a dough that is well combined and soft, but not sticky or soggy. Mix with your fingers to make sure all of the ingredients are combined and use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl. Keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
  • Use about a teaspoon of oil to lightly grease a clean work surface (using oil instead of flour will keep the texture of the dough consistent). Put your dough onto the greased work surface. Make sure you have plenty of space.
  • Fold the far edge of the dough into the middle, then turn the dough by a quarter turn and repeat. Do this several times until the dough is very lightly coated in olive oil.
  • Now use your hands to knead the dough. Push the dough out in one direction with the heel of your hand, then fold it back on itself, turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Kneading in this way stretches the gluten and makes the dough elastic. Do this for about 4 or 5 mins until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Work quickly so that the mixture doesn’t stick to your hands. If it does get too sticky you can add a little flour to your hands.
  • Clean and lightly oil your mixing bowl and put the dough back into it. Cover with a damp tea towel or lightly oiled cling film and leave it on one side to prove. This gives the yeast time to work and the dough will double in size. This should take about an hour, but will vary depending on the temperature of your room.
  • Stage two: Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicone paper.
  • Once the dough has doubled in size you can scrape it out of the bowl to shape it. The texture should be bouncy and shiny. Put it onto a lightly floured surface and knock it back – use your hand to roll the dough up, then turn by a quarter turn and roll it up again. Repeat several times. Then use your hands to gently turn and smooth it into a round loaf shape.
  • Place onto the lined baking tray, cover with a tea towel or lightly oiled cling film and leave to prove again until it’s doubled in size. This will take about an hour, but may be quicker or slower depending on how warm your kitchen is.
  • Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan assisted)/425°F/gas mark 7. Put an old, empty roasting tin into the bottom of the oven.
  • Stage three: After an hour the loaf should have risen again. Sprinkle some flour on top and very gently rub it in. Use a large, sharp knife to make shallow cuts about 1cm deep across the top of the loaf to create a diamond pattern.
  • Put the loaf on the baking tray into the middle of the oven. Pour cold water into the empty roasting tray at the bottom of the oven just before you shut the door – this creates steam which helps the loaf develop a crisp and shiny crust.
  • Bake the loaf for about 30 mins.
  • The loaf is cooked when it’s risen and golden. To check, take it out of the oven and tap it gently underneath – it should sound hollow. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

London Marathon: Carb-Loading

sdcMarathon runners it’s time to start pilling up on your carbohydrate intake ahead of the London Marathon, next week!

This is an important part of the training process as your body can only store enough energy to sustain 90 minutes of exercise, on average. Therefore it is crucial that you build up your carbohydrate intake three to four days before the race so you have the maximum level of energy to keep going after the 90 minute wall.

Energy gels are a great way to top up on sugar while you are running but by adding more carbs to your diet you are building up an extra energy layer for your body.

Three to fours days prior to the London Marathon will give your body enough time to store the extra energy. So it’s time to switch 60% of your daily intake to carbohydrates. It’s best to achieve this by eating little and often rather than big meals, and fast food isn’t the best option, you want carbs that will really make a difference.

The best foods are: wholegrain breads, porridge, spaghetti and brown rice. Ok, so not the most interesting carbohydrates but you can enjoy them with high protein foods and little treats.

It may surprise you to discover that dried fruit is also full of carbs so indulge in raisins, dried cranberries or apricots next week too. There are also specific energy bars that you can purchase from sports stores, in my opinion these normally taste a little gross; I prefer to stick to dried fruit or peanut butter on toast. Yum!

And don’t forget to drink plenty of water at this stage too.