Thursday, March 31, 2011

Things That Rise: Part One - Focaccia

So, buoyed by my minor Crumpet success I pressed ahead with real BREAD!  I decided to go ahead with a recipe from my trusty Annabel Langbein ‘The Free Range Cook’ book, because a) I've never made an Annabel recipe that didn't work out spectacularly well; b) it's a flat-bread, surely even I can get that right; and c) the food porn is fantastic in this book and I really, really wanted to eat the bread in that picture.

I had faith that Annabel would not let me down, and of course, she didn’t.

FYI - I made this bread.
I made bread AND it was edible. In fact, it was fantastic, the husband couldn’t believe I had made it myself and started getting quite excited about never having to shell out for one of those half-baked loaves again. We go through quite a few of those loaves that you finish off in the oven for 15 minutes and they’re not super cheap.
Crusty Flat Bread
From Annabel Langbein’s The Free Range Cook

1 ½ cups warm (not hot) water
1 ½ tsp dry yeast granules
1 packed cup cooked mashed potato
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 ½ cups high grade flour, plus extra for kneading
2 tsp salt

1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp fresh rosemary leaves
½ tsp sea salt

Place warm water in a large mixing bowl (a bread maker or electric mixer with a dough blade is ideal if you have one). Sprinkle yeast over the water and allow to stand for 2 minutes. Mix in the mashed potato and the ¼ cup olive oil. Stir in the flour and salt and mix until the dough just starts to come away from the sides of the bowl.

The dough straight out of the mixer; and after kneading.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and using lightly oiled hands knead about 30 times (or 3-4 minutes on the dough cycle of a bread maker). (I lost count after about 3 turns of the bread so just kept going for about 10 mins - does the dough look like it's been kneaded enough? I have no idea)  Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with muslin or a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 3-4 hours or until it has doubled in bulk. You can also leave it in the fridge, covered, to rise slowly overnight.

When you’re ready to cook your bread, place a baking stone on the centre shelf of the oven and preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius (I don’t have a stone so just used a solid baking tray and it worked fine). Turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured board, divide in half and shape each half into a ball, Roughly flatten one ball onto a tray lined with baking paper, pressing the dough out to an oval shape about 25 x 20 cm. Use your fingertips to press dimples into the top of the loaf, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and salt.

Slide the baking paper with the dough on it off the tray onto the preheated baking stone/tray. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden. When cooked the bread will sound hollow when you tap it. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking stone for a few minutes. Then transfer to a rack to cool.

Repeat with the other ball of dough. If you want to save the second ball of dough to use later, place it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean cloth and place in the fridge for up to 48 hours. It also freezes well. Thaw before pressing out and baking.

I’m not sure what part the potato plays in the dough, any ideas? I put the second half of the dough in the fridge and couldn’t believe that it continued rising overnight! On Sunday we had our neighbours dropped in around lunchtime, and I had a perfect 1950’s housewife moment when I pulled the dough out of the fridge and whipped up some cheese, bacon and tomato twists in no time flat. Unfortunately I didn’t think of taking a photo as I was too busy basking in my own brilliance but they were also fantastic and went down very well with a wee glass of cheeky red.

I will definitely be using this recipe again and think I now have enough confidence to try a bread that isn’t supposed to come out of the oven flat. Watch this space…

1 comment:

  1. i love making bread, makes me feel quite smug !!