blog > tag > bread
October 2, 2011
I’ve been a bit slack on the baking front recently and when I have gotten around to it, it has been the trusty focaccia or pizza dough recipes from River Cottage. I was looking for something to push me outside of my comfort zone a little, and the September challenge from Fresh from the Oven seemed like just the ticket: fougasse. I hadn’t heard the name before but have certainly seen the pretty leaf shaped loaves around at farmer’s markets.
It is a traditional French flat bread – not dissimilar to the Italian focaccia in texture. It is traditionally made in wood fired ovens, with the addition of toppings or ingredients mixed into the dough, such as olives, cheese, anchovies or even dried fruit.
It certainly took me outside of my comfort zone! Claire from Purely Food who hosted the challenge, suggested using Richard Bertinet’s recipe from The Telegraph, or Lorraine Pascale’s simpler version. Ever a gluten for punishment, I decided to give Richard’s a go.
Well, it wasn't as simple for me as Richard suggests. I’ve never dealt with such wet dough before - it took huge effort to get it from a sticky, gloopy mess to smooth, elastic dough – at least 25 minutes of vigorous needing. I wasn’t sure if I’d done something wrong and nearly gave up, but I’m really glad I didn’t.
I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome – crispy on the outside, soft in the middle and a fantastic appearance making it a real showstopper for entertaining. The fantastic leaf shape looks lovely and autumnal, and it makes the bread perfect for tearing apart and sharing.
My topping of choice was to brush the loaves with extra virgin olive oil and add a sprinkling of Parmesan. Reading blog posts about other attempts at this loaf suggest many didn’t find it as hard as I did, of course particularly those with a Kitchen Aid, so don’t be put off giving a go. I’ll definitely try it again, maybe using a different recipe, and experimenting with different toppings like rosemary, chilli oil, sun dried tomatoes or thyme.
Related recipe posts you might like:
May 23, 2011
Morning, hope you've had a great weekend. Ours has been fun and very busy with fine tuning the website, but ended with an unfortunate trip to the minor injuries unit last night (long story involving an exploding hot water bottle, but I'm OK!). Baking bread is one of my favourite things to do at the weekend, and I got up early yesterday to make one of my favourites - focaccia. It's really one of the easiest and most impressive types of bread to make, and one I turn to again and again, to take to dinner parties or just enjoy at home.
There's two recipes that I love - this River Cottage one, and this one from food blog, Lottie and Doof. I couldn't decide which to go for, so ended up combining the two - following the River Cottage recipe (which is slightly simpler), then adding sugar to the mix and topping, and replacing olives with black grapes. It was a good move. Seriously good, in fact I should have doubled the recipe because it's almost gone. An amazing combo of sweet and salty, it's equally delicious with cheese and chilled glass of white wine, or alone with a mug of tea. Yum. OK, I'll stop gushing now, just go make it. You won't regret it.
Grape and rosemary focaccia
Adapted from River Cottage Handbook No.3: Bread by Daniel Stevens
500g strong white bread flour
5g powdered yeast
10g fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
325ml warm water
About 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for coating
- A generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- A sprinkle of flaky sea salt
- A sprinkle of sugar (demerara works well)
- A couple of rosemary sprigs, leaves stripped and finely chopped
- A couple of handfuls of seedless black grapes
To knead by hand: mix the flour, yeast, salt and water in a bowl to form a sticky dough. Add the oil, mix it in, then turn the dough out on to a clean, floured work surface. Knead until smooth and silky, about 10 minutes.
Or, to use a food mixer: fit the dough hook and add the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and water to the mixer bowl. Mix on a low speed until evenly combined, then add the oil and leave to knead for 10 minutes, until smooth and silky.
Shape the dough into a round and coat with a little extra oil. Leave to rise in a clean bowl, covered with a plastic bag.
When it has doubled in size, tip it on to a clean work surface and press into a rough rectangle. Place in a lightly oiled shallow baking tray, measuring about 26 x 36cm. Press the dough in with your fingers, right into the corners. Now leave to rise, covered, for about 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 250°C/Gas Mark 10, or as high as it will go. When the bread looks puffed up and airy, use your finger tips to poke deep holes across the whole surface, almost to the bottom, and distribute grapes in the holes. Drizzle the top generously (but not swimmingly), and sprinkle with salt, sugar and rosemary.
Bake for about 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to about 200°C/Gas Mark 6 and bake for a further 10 minutes - keep an eye on the colour, you want a nice golden brown.
Focaccia is best eaten warm, but not hot; leave to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before serving, or leave to cool completely.