I love freshly made bread, way more than I probably should. Hard dough bread is my absolute favourite. I love it so much, we even served it as part of the evening snack food at our wedding.
When I was a little kid, we used to make regular pilgrimages to Charlie's Patty, a black-owned and run bakery on West Green Road, Tottenham. My mum would buy two big loaves of hard dough bread, so fresh out of the oven that it would burn your hands as you tried to hold it. She used to buy one, but I'd developed a selfish habit of tunnelling out and scoffing the centre of a fresh loaf, leaving a disappointingly hollow shell of crust left for the rest of my family. I know. I had a bread problem.
Hard dough is a soft, buttery crumbed loaf with a firm but pliable crust. It's a staple for Jamaican gatherings, and you can eat it with anything. Fish, butter, lentils, jerk chicken, scrambled eggs, jam, you name it. And of course if you're me, you grow up toasting and slathering it in Nutella before dunking it in hot chocolate. Surrounded by all these people making sourdough starters during lockdown, I decided that it was the high time I learned to make hard dough bread.
This recipe comes from the excellent Enid Donaldson's The Real Taste of Jamaica, and makes two small loaves.
2 lbs flour
2 tsp instant dried yeast
4 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 oz unsalted butter
2 cups water
In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients.
Cut in butter with pastry blender, two knives, or finger tips.
Add cold water and knead. Form into a ball.
Knead for 15 - 20 minutes and place dough in a greased container. Make sure the ball is greased all around.
Cover container with a clean, dry towel and place in a warm place for 40 minutes, to rise.
Remove ball to a lightly floured board. Use a rolling pin and shape dough to a rectangular shape.
Grease loaf pans.
Roll up dough as tightly as possible and shape in two rectangles to fit the loaf pans - about 12 x 5 x 3 ins.
Allow dough to rest in the pan for 40 minutes.
Fifteen minutes before dough is ready, pre-heat over to 190C(375F).
Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.
Tap loaf and if it sounds hollow, leave for five minutes then take it out.
Cool on a wire rack
Try it. SO easy, and so satisfying.