Technically it's week four of the Great British Bake Off, but I've been a very busy bee of late so am playing a game of catch up with week three's challenge: bread!
I've wanted to have a crack at this focaccia recipe which is slightly adapted from the Mary Berry version in her Baking Bible. We've got some lovely herbs growing in the garden and I wanted to make the most of them before the frost starts setting in.
400g strong white flour (bread flour)
4 tbsp olive oil
300ml warm water
1 sachet of dried active yeast
A good handful of fresh, chopped rosemary and thyme
For this recipe I bunged all the ingredients in a mixer with a bread hook, switched it on low, and it made a gorgeous dough in about 4-5 minutes. Pick up the recipe at instruction 3 if this relates to you. If you don't have a mixer with a bread hook follow the instructions below.
1. Combine the flour, semolina, olive oil and salt in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Make sure all ingredients are well combined before proceeding.
2. Add the yeast and warm water and mix together until a dough is formed. This should take around 5 minutes by hand. It should be sticky but not sloppy.
3. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead for around 5 minutes, stretching the dough and pushing it back on itself.
4. Line a large mixing bowl with olive oil and put the kneaded dough ball in to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. (Airing cupboards work excellently)
5. Preheat oven to 220 degrees.
6. Turn out onto a floured surface and knock back dough. This involved pushes the dough down and back to make a rectangle shape. After this process, the dough should be elasticy, soft and smooth.
7. Mix together the chopped herbs with olive oil and spread over the bread evenly. The oil ensures the herbs won't catch in the oven.
8. Cover with clingfilm (leaving no air gaps) and leave to prove for 30 minutes.
9. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
It came out much better than I expected! Last time I attempted focaccia it was very flat, not helped by my freezing university house and the make shift 'warm tent' I made. It was far more effort than it was worth. Imagine a clothes horse, bed sheet, fan heater and precariously placed bowl of dough.
I served the bread with an italian style al fresco lunch, cured meats, dipping balsamic, salad and sun-dried tomatoes. A send off to summer!
This recipe is so easy to follow. Semolina is the only ingredient I had trouble getting my hands on, but once you have it it keeps well in a clip-lock jar.
Puddings will follow shortly, keep an eye out!