Our world has become a richer place, thanks to a little baby girl, Tijana, born on 12 February! The new addition to our family was born in Novi Sad, with short, dark, bushy hair, beautiful eyes and a cute smiling face.
So, before you start asking questions I better explain why I decided to celebrate her birth with a post about bread. It's in our tradition to mark every special occasion in our lives with a loaf of bread, Christmas, Easter, engagements, weddings, births... Although it goes centuries back, the custom is still very much alive, and if not that strong in the cities, definitely in towns and rural areas. And if I were there, I would of welcomed her arrival with a fresh bread loaf, so why not do the same from thousands of kilometres away?
For the starter
1/2 tsp dried yeast
150 ml water
3tbsp tepid water
450g strong white flour
For the dough
1/2 tsp dried yeast
1/2 tbsp olive oil
350g strong white flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
To make the starter - mix yeast with milk and water, leave for 5 minutes, then add the honey and flour. Combine well and leave overnight (or at least for 12 hours).
To make the dough - Mix the yeast with water, leave for 5 minutes and add it together with olive oil to the starter. Mix the flour and salt and beat with a wooden spoon to form a wet, sticky dough until it becomes springy and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Cover the dough and leave to rise until trebled in size, for about 3 hours. Do not knock the dough back.
Flour two baking sheets generously, divide the dough in half, scoop half of the dough on to one baking sheet. Using well-floured hands form a long rectangular loaf, dust the loaf and your hands again with flour. Repeat with the other half.
Leave the two loaves uncovered for 20 minutes to rest, they will rise more as well as spread out.
Bake in a preheated oven (220C) for 30 minutes, until golden in colour and hollow-sounding when tapped underneath.
Leave it to cool on a wire rack.
Note: One half can be divided into smaller pieces and shaped into bread sticks, as shown below.
The heart shaped bread is made with Pain D'epi mixture