Make these for your family on a special weekend.
*All the ingredients should be at room temperature except for the buttermilk, milk or water. Heat this liquid until lukewarm. Test the temperature with the back of your hand. If it is too hot, the yeast will ‘die’ and the dough will not rise.
*Knead and punch down dough, preferably by hand, for 5–10 minutes until it is elastic. Only add enough flour or other liquid to make dough soft and no longer sticky.
*Place dough in a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and leave to prove (rise) in a warm place away from draughts. When risen sufficiently, it will be soft and silken to the touch.
*Buns or rolls: Oven temperature 220°C (425°F, gas mark 7); middle rack; cooking time 10–15 minutes
*Flat breads: Oven temperature 220°C (425°F, gas mark 7); middle rack; cooking time 20–35 minutes
*Loaves of bread and cakes cooked in deep tins: Oven temperature 200°C (400°F, gas mark 6); second-lowest rack; cooking time 40–60 minutes
*For Focaccia with Herbs and Olives, knead 500 g (4 cups/1 lb 2 oz) strong white (bread) flour, 2 tsp salt, 100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) olive oil, 2 tsp (7g/1/4 oz) dry (powdered) yeast and 250 ml (1 cup/9 fl oz) lukewarm water into a dough. Cover and leave to prove for 30 minutes. Knead 2 tsp each of chopped rosemary, thyme and oregano and 150 g (1 cup/5 1/2 oz) finely chopped olives into the dough. Shape dough into an oval loaf, allow to prove and bake.
*For Sweet Rolls, prepare the basic dough with the butter, 1 tsp grated lemon zest, 1 tsp ground cinnamon and 3 tbsp sugar. Knead the following into the dough as desired: 90 g (3/4 cup/3 oz) well-drained rum-soaked sultanas (golden raisins), halved toasted hazelnuts (filberts), diced candied fruit, coarsely chopped walnuts or pieces of chocolate. Shape rolls, allow to prove; brush with a mixture of 2 tbsp milk and 2 tbsp sugar before baking.