Dalek Bread (makes enough dough for one BIG Dalek, but you can go smaller and make mini rolls with any dough leftover)
For the Dough:
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 7g dried fast action yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 300ml of warm water (100ml of boiling topped with 200ml of cold usually works)
- 3 tbsp olive oil (plus a little more for kneading in)
For the bread flavouring:
- 5 large cloves of garlic finely sliced
- 90g black olives roughly chopped plus some more halved to make those Dalek knob thingies
- Fresh thyme, you'll need the leaves from about 15-20 stalks.
- Olive oil to brush the dough.
- Some cubes of feta to decorate the Dalek's shiny head.
- Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
- Get straight into making the dough by putting your flour and yeast in a bowl and mixing them up thoroughly. Then pop in the salt and sugar.
- Add the oil to the water and make a well in the middle of the flour before slowly pouring the water in with one hand and mixing vigorously with the other, making sure to pick up all the flour stuck to the sides, until you get good ball of dough.
- If it's very wet, sprinkle some flour on a clean surface and get to kneading; if it's holding together fine or maybe feels a little tough, squirt a glug of olive oil instead of flour and knead in that. Knead for approximately 10-15 minutes until the dough comes fully together and feels smooth.
- Pop in an oiled bowl, cover with a cloth and leave it somewhere warm to rise for about 1-2 hours. (In winter my house is regularly either eerily chilly or Siberian gulag, so I left as it long as possible to let it do its thing.)
- While your dough is coming to life like some sort of delicious yeasty Frankenstein monster, get chopping the garlic, olives and pulling those pesky thyme leaves (small tip: if you gently hold the top of the thyme stalk, pinch the stem and run your fingers from the top to the base of the stalk you should find the leaves fall off easily rather then picking them off one by one).
- Put the garlic in a small pan with a tiny bit of oil on a very low heat and slowly warm it up, you're not frying it just cooking/softening it slightly. After about 5-8 minutes add the olives and thyme and warm them through as well until your whole house smells amazing and it starts making you super hungry (or is that just me?) Once you're happy with it take it off the heat and leave to the side to cool.
- To prepare the construction of your Dalek, I found a Dalek stencil online and copied it on to a large piece of baking paper. You'll be using this to help shape the dough when you start rolling it out.
- Once the dough has doubled in size and springs back when you touch it gently scrape it out on to a clean oiled surface. Spoon out your garlic, olive and thyme mix on top and gently knead the flavouring into the dough, making sure to get it mixed in thoroughly. Cut a small piece off and set aside, this will be the Dalek antenna.
- Pre heat the oven to 240C/220F/Gas Mark 8 and put a large flat baking tray in to heat up.
- Now roll the dough out on top of your Dalek-shaped drawing until it's about 1/2 inch thick, helping it along with your hands to get the round head and any corners shaped out, you're basically aiming for a sort of cut-off thumb shape.
- Once you have the general shape, it's time to make the Daleky incisions! Dip a sharp knife in flour (to stop it sticking) and make two horizontal slices an inch apart about 4 inches from the top making sure not to slice right to the edge. Then make a series of small inch long vertical incisions from left to right just under them, dust the cuts with some flour and pinch them to stop any trying to re-close. Now to make four long evenly spaced vertical cuts from an inch below the previous lines to an inch above the bottom, again pull the cuts open and dust with flour to keep them open.
- Brush the Dalek with some oil and press your cubes of feta along the domed head anywhere else you feel like it (I was rather liberal with it, as I love cheese like a fat kid ... err, loves cheese?) and press the halved olives down the front bottom sections for the knobbly bits.
- Now fashion the antenna from the piece of dough you put aside and stick it to to the Dalek with some oil, I popped a lump of feta on the end because you can never have enough right? Sprinkle a little sea salt over the top.
- Leave the Dalek to prove for a further 20 minutes.
- Pull out your hot baking tray (HOT! It will be very HOT) and slide the baking paper with your amazing bread masterpiece on to it and pop it in the oven to bake.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden, then remove from the oven and proceed to EX!TER!MIN!ATE! WITH! YOUR! MOUTH!