RECIPE: I like the recipes in the Bourke Street Bakery book because they provide a lot of detailed instructions. There’s three steps to making panini: preparing the ‘ferment’, making the olive oil dough, and then shaping the panini themselves.

COMPONENTS: I made the ferment the night before. Now that I’ve made the full recipe, I’ve reserved some of the dough in the freezer as the ferment for the next batch. I learnt something new about yeast. I have instant dried yeast in stock because that’s what you use in the bread maker. Bourke Street Bakery said their recipes won’t work with the instant yeast because it proves too quickly, but it did seem to work this time. I’ll have to look into sourcing active dried yeast. I also learnt how to ‘knock down’ the bread while it was proving (for this recipe you do it twice during the 1.5 hour prove). The method was to spread the dough out to a rectangle and fold a third in from each end twice – a bit like laminating puff pastry. I cut the panini larger than recommended. The recipe was meant to make 30 and I got 20. I actually wouldn’t make them smaller – even at the size I cut them they were a good dinner roll size. I was worried at the time of putting them into the oven that they had over-proved, because I stuck a finger in one and the dough didn’t spring back at all. After the final half hour prove they hadn’t puffed up at all. Somehow, after spraying water in the oven and leaving a tin with steaming water in the bottom, they puffed up perfectly.

IMPRESSIONS: I can’t believe I pulled this one off because there were so many points where I was sure it hadn’t worked. They sounded hollow when tapped on the bottom, had nice air holes inside and seemed to be the same texture as the ones we buy, so I’m very happy.

Recipe from Bourke Street Bakery by Paul Allum

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