Did you miss me? Did you even notice I was gone??
For the first time since I started this blog, more than a month has gone past without any posts. In fact, it is very nearly three months! This is very tardy of me, I know, but I promise I have a good excuse …. I’m having a baby!
I won’t bore you with the details but suffice to say that until very recently I was so shattered from all the crazy hormones that the thought of even turning my computer on in the evening was too much effort, let alone engaging my brain to write something.
Thankfully I have now reached the promised land (aka the second trimester); a place where you return to the normal, fully functioning person you used to be, albeit with a much larger belly! Suddenly the thought of writing seems appealing rather than impossible, so here I am, back on the blog and I thought I would ease us all back in with something nice and simple – focaccia.
We had friends round for dinner last Sunday and in the morning I decided that it would be nice to bake some bread. Focaccia tends to be my go-to bread in this situation because it is interesting and tasty but also incredibly simple to make and you only need an hour and a half to make it in. As a person who does everything at the last minute, this is a definite plus!
It really is worth the effort if you do have the time. There is nothing more comforting than homemade bread at the start of a meal and it is much cheaper to make it at home than to buy it from a bakery or market stall, not to mention more satisfying.
The recipe I use is from my Le Manoir bread course and it makes two loaves.
- 500g strong white flour
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 2 springs of finely chopped rosemary
- 7g easy bake yeast (or 15g fresh*)
- 280ml cold water
- 100ml olive oil
I usually make this by hand, which is good fun as the mixture seems very wet at first (you have to add the olive oil in two halves for this reason) and then suddenly it all comes together. However, on this occasion I decided to try out the dough hook function on my Kitchen Aid and it turned out really well.
If you are going for the dough hook method, put all of the dry ingredients in the bowl with the water and half the oil, then turn it to the slowest setting for 5 minutes, adding the second half of the oil when the dough has started to come together. After 5 minutes, turn up the speed to medium fast and leave for another 3 – 4 minutes. To test when it is ready, take a small amount of dough in your hands and gently stretch it between your fingers. When you can stretch it to a fine layer without it breaking this means it is ready for proving.
If you want to make the bread by hand, put all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the water and half the oil, then gradually mix with your fingertips. Once the dough comes together, take it out of the bowl and knead for 2 – 3 minutes. Then add the remaining oil (it will be very wet but don’t worry) and knead for another 5 – 8 minutes. Again you can test when it is ready with the stretching method.
To prove the dough, just pop some clingfilm over the bowl and leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes divide the dough into two and squidge it into two baking tins that are at least 1.5 inches deep. I use 7.5 inch round ones but you could use any shape or make one big loaf if you prefer. Press the dough down with your fingertips, then cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for 30 – 40 minutes until it has doubled in size.
Once the dough has doubled in size, remove the cling film, press back down with your finger tips, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and some more rosemary if you have some spare.
Then place into a pre heated oven at 270ºC for 10 – 15 minutes until they are golden brown. Turn out of the tins and allow to cool on a wire rack.
There you have it; slice it up and impress your guests or scoff it all yourself depending on how you’re feeling. Personally I love focaccia dipped in good quality extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar or filled as a sandwich with mozzarella and roasted vegetables. The bonus of making two loaves is that you can have one for your guests and one for sandwiches in the week.
*if you are using fresh yeast you will need to mix this with the water before adding it to the bowl.