Baked to Perfection
Esteemed food writer M. F. K. Fisher once said “It is impossible to think of any good meal, no matter how plain or elegant, without soup or bread in it.” Make yours a meal to remember with our four irresistible international bread recipes.
Focaccia alla Genovese
A Ligurian staple, focaccia was once so precious to the Romans that it was a prime offering to the gods during celebrations. This recipe comes from the dreamlike Belmond Hotel Splendido in Portofino. It’s a perfect appetiser to pair with white wine; or enjoy it like a real Genoese and dip it in your morning cappuccino.
- 550ml water, divided
- 15g active dry yeast
- 15g salt
- 10g sugar
- 500g strong flour
- 200ml olive oil
Place yeast in a mixing bowl and add sugar plus 100ml of warm water. Stir the mixture until it begins to foam. Sprinkle in flour, adding another 150ml of water and salt. Knead for 20 minutes.
Make a ball with the dough and place it into a bowl, covering with a cloth. Place in an unheated oven and leave it to rise for two hours. Meanwhile, mix 200ml of water with 200ml of oil to make an emulsion.
Oil a baking tray and stretch out the dough. Coat it with the emulsion and dimple lightly with your fingers, careful to avoid making holes. Leave this to rise for one hour.
Sprinkle with salt, then bake for 10-15 minutes at 180°C.
Pão de Queijo
One of the most emblematic dishes of Brazil, these delicious little cheese rolls can be found in virtually every store and on every street corner. The recipe originally came from Africa, where it was prepared with soaked and peeled cassava root. Cheese was added to the recipe towards the end of the 19th century. This version comes from Belmond Copacabana Palace, the most iconic hotel in Rio.
- 500g sour tapioca starch
- 350g half-cured cheese
- 60ml sunflower oil
- 110ml whole milk
- 3g sea salt
- 2 eggs
Mix tapioca starch, salt and a few drops of water in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. In the meantime add milk and sunflower oil to a pan and bring to the boil. In a steady stream, add the tapioca starch to the pot stirring with a wooden spoon until well combined. Allow to cool slightly.
Add one egg at a time, mixing thoroughly. Finally stir in the cheese.
Allow the dough to rest in a refrigerator, ideally overnight.
Separate into 30g rounds, then bake at 180°C for 20 minutes. Halfway through baking sprinkle grated cheese over the top of the rolls.
Beer Bread Rolls
Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons is a culinary treasure trove in the heart of Oxfordshire, perfectly blending French heritage with English philosophy. This recipe from Chef Patissier Benoit Blin perfectly captures that national duality. Originally from Alsace, the bread is best made with a light and hoppy English beer.
For the dough:
- 260g leftover white bread dough (lightly fermented)
- 105ml water
- 45ml beer
- 100g mashed potato
- 8g fresh yeast
- 9g sea salt
- 205g organic white flour
- 80g dark rye flour
For the glaze:
- 70ml beer
- 5g fresh yeast
- 55g dark rye flour
In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, mix all the dough ingredients and mix for 5 minutes on low speed, then 3 to 4 minutes on a medium speed.
Test the elasticity of the mixture, making sure you can stretch a small piece into a thin and springy shape.
Remove the dough and place in a bowl, cover with clingfilm. Leave this to prove at room temperature for roughly 75 minutes. Once proved, divide into 60g rolls.
In the meantime prepare the glaze by mixing together all ingredients.
Brush the glaze generously over the tops and sides of the rolls and then sprinkle flour through a sieve. Prove the rolls for another 90 minutes at room temperature, or until they have doubled in volume.
Bake the rolls at 270°C until the coating is dark brown and crisp. Remove and allow to cool on wire racks.
Pan de Mole
Mole, the Náhuatl word for sauce, is considered one of the key flavours of Mexico. The classic recipe is shrouded in legend, and is usually made from a mix of fruits, chilies, nuts, spices and chocolate. This recipe from Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa takes the classic flavour of mole paste to create an irresistible bread.
For the sourdough:
- 500g wheat flour
- 500ml water
For the Pan de Mole:
- 1,750g of flour
- 35g salt
- 55g yeast
- 525g pre-prepared sourdough
- 350g black mole paste
- Sesame seeds
- 1lt ice water
To begin you will need to prepare the sourdough three days in advance. On the first day mix 100g of wheat flour with 100ml of water, and leave to stand for 24 hours. If the dough has bubbles, remove half the mixture and replace with the same amount of flour, mixing again. If no bubbles have formed allow to rest for another day.
On day three, whether or not bubbles have formed, again remove half the mixture and replace with the same amount of flour, integrating once more. The sourdough is now ready to prepare pan de mole.
In a mixer, add all the pan de mole ingredients and mix thoroughly. Leave to stand for 30 minutes. Slowly add the water to assist with fermentation, then leave to stand for 20 minutes.
Form the dough into small balls of approximately 50g and place on a waxed paper-lined tray. Add sesame seeds and allow to ferment for 2 hours, or when the dough has doubled in size.
Put the tray into the oven, pre-heated to 200°C. Throw a splash of water onto the oven floor and immediately close the door. Leave to bake for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned.