This combination of the sweet balsamic tomatoes and slight aniseed flavour from the fennel work especially well in this bread which is crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. You may be put off from the making bread due to the perceived complexity but this recipe is easy to make and only takes 30 mins to cook. Perfect for making to tear and share with friends.
Weigh out the flower and sift into a large bowl with the salt then add the yeast and stir together. Measure out the warm water, no more than body temperature and add the olive oil, whisk a little before forming a well in the centre of the flour. Slowly pour in the water and oil stirring constantly with a wooden spoon bringing in the sides of the flour until combined and a soft dough is formed.
Clean off the spoon and flour a work surface. Flour your hands and bring the dough together in the bowl before turning out to knead vigorously for 8 minutes. Clean the bowl and drizzle with oil and return the dough to rise. Cover with film and put in a warm place until doubled in size approx. 50 to 60 minutes.
Pre heat the oven to 220 degrees.
Slice the fennel and gently fry in olive oil until soft. On a floured surface roll out the dough to fit a baking tray, poke in the tomatoes and place the fennel on top with some Malden salt, then bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden and cooked through.