Last week I had the pleasure to visit the Bellver Ric estate, near Sant Llorenç des Cardassar. It’s a small family business run by Stéphane Carayon and his wife Silvia, dedicated to the ecological cultivation of ancestral grains and organic flour. I learnt so much just talking to Stéphane about the history of his grains and the importance naturing our soil to create this wonderful artisan, sustainable flour. As I left, I couldn’t wait to get back my kitchen to start baking.

Let’s be honest, nothing beats the taste and smell of home-baked bread and it's so satisfying to make your own. Sadly, there seems to be a myth that bread making is difficult and takes time. True, the bread itself needs its own time, but it will only take about 6-10 minutes of your actual time. The secret to success lies in a combination of elbow grease when kneading the dough and patience while you wait for the dough to rise and double in size. Then it’s as simple as sitting back while your bread bakes and the wonderful aromas fill the air. You’ll probably find that it takes less time than travelling to a really good baker and back!

It’s difficult to imagine life without bread and indeed the Hungarians have a saying that "bread is older than man". 12,000 years ago, primitive people made flat breads by mixing flour and water and placing these "cakes" in the sun to bake. Later, bread was baked on heated rocks or in the hot ashes of a fire.

These day’s, bread comes in all shapes and forms ranging from the thinnest flatbreads to the fluffiest brioche. Some are amazingly simple: Matzoh, for example, is nothing more than flour and water, baked until crisp. Raised breads, on the other hand, involve the complex interactions between flour and the leaveners (Yeast) that give them their porous, tender quality.

There are however a few key stages when producing bread that need to be adhered to. Firstly, the dough must first be kneaded: a vigorous massaging and stretching process that encourages the development of the flour's gluten and makes the dough smoother and more elastic. The kneaded dough then needs to 'prove' (or left to rise) until it has doubled in size. The amount of time this takes varies according to the recipe and the room temperature, however 1½ to 2 hours is typical. Once the dough has risen, it's 'knocked back', or pushed down into the bowl with the knuckles to dispel the air that has formed in the dough. The dough is then lightly kneaded again and shaped into the desired loaf. Often the recipe will ask you to leave the shaped dough to prove again on the baking tray or in the tin before baking.


This is a simplified bread recipe, which can be adapted to create a host of different breads, pizza bases, etc.


1kl plain bread flour

10g powdered dried yeast

2 tsp caster sugar

20g fine salt

200ml warm milk

400ml warm water

2 tbs melted butter

1. Combine flour, yeast and caster sugar in a large bowl. Stir in salt. Make a well in the centre. Add warm milk, water and melted butter.

2. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until well combined, then use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Brush a large bowl with olive oil to grease. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place to prove for 1 hour or until the dough has almost doubled in size. Punch down the centre of the dough with your fist. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2 minutes or until the dough is elastic and has returned to its original size.

3. Divide the dough into 2 large or 3 small loaves, or a dozen rolls. Shape these into rounds and leave them to rest, covered, for 10–15 minutes. Switch the oven to 250C/gas 10 or its highest setting.

4. Bake the bread in the hot oven. Turn the heat down after about 10 minutes to: 200C/gas 6 if the crust still looks very pale; 180C/gas 4 if the crust is noticeably browning; 170C/gas 3 if the crust seems to be browning quickly. Bake until the loaves are well browned and crusty, and feel hollow when you tap them: in total, 10–20 minutes for rolls; 30–40 minutes for small loaves and 40–50 minutes for large loaves. Leave to cool on a wire rack, or anything similar that allows air underneath. Bread for tearing can be served warm, but bread for slicing must be cooled completely.


This chia seed bread is one of my absolute favourites because I love the texture. . The chia seeds inside the bread give a nice crunchy bite to it.

Ingredients serves 6-8

250g wholemeal plain flour

3 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

Zest of 2 medium lemons

3 tbsp lemon juice

200g mashed banana

150ml milk

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

2. Lightly oil your loaf tin and sprinkle with flour, set aside.

3. Place the flour, chia seeds, sugar, salt and baking powder into a bowl and mix. Slowly add the mashed banana, milk, lemon zest, lemon juice and mix well.

4. Pour batter into the loaf tin and place in oven for 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for 15-20 minutes before carefully removing from tin and letting cool for an extra 10 minutes before slicing & serving!


This is a gorgeous onion, anchovy & olive tart made like a pizza. It makes a great starter or simple summer lunch served hot or cold with a crisp green salad.

You can even use ready-made shortcrust or puff pastry to cut down on the preparation time.

Ingredients: Serves 4-6

For the base:

250g strong white bread flour

½ tsp salt

2 tsp dried yeast

150ml warm water

1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing

For the topping:

3 medium onions, finely sliced

1 garlic clove

3 tbsp olive oil

A knob of butter (optional)

1 sprig of fresh thyme


12 anchovy fillets

14 dry black olives, stoned

Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

1. For the base, tip the flour, salt and yeast into a bowl. Pour in the warm water, spoon in the olive oil and mix to a soft dough. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky.

2. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave it to rise for 45 minutes.

3. While the dough is rising, heat the oil and butter in a very large frying pan over a medium heat until bubbling. Add the sliced onions with a pinch of salt and cover with a lid. Cook for 25-30 minutes over a gentle flame, stirring occasionally, until completely softened and lightly caramelised. Once the onions have caramelised, stir in the thyme leaves and cook for 1 minute more, then transfer to a bowl to cool slightly.

4. Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.

5. Roll out the bread dough onto a large baking sheet and cover with the onions and spread evenly, leaving a clean border around the outside. Arrange the anchovies over the onions in a lattice, creating a diamond pattern, then put an olive in the middle of each diamond. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and crisp, then transfer to a board, scatter more with fresh thyme leaves and serve in slices.