Yeast baking and bread making is my nemesis! I’m not confident baking bread at all. Things either don’t rise or they look a complete mess. So when I have to make anything bread or yeast related, I run for the hills!
Now as you know, I have my #100bakeschallengeposter on the go and by New Year’s Day had completed 77/100 bakes. The last 23 are bakes I’d find a real challenge in every sense of the word or ones that we wouldn’t necessarily eat in our house.
Not to mention that with bread baking or yeast cookery, there’s often a lot of proving time and hanging around all day that I don’t often have time for any more. I just need to be more organised.
One of the leftover challenges was Focaccia which I absolutely adore eating. Especially when I can dunk it in an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip and serve alongside a platter of olives and antipasti. My daughter makes gorgeous Focaccia and tested it out on us a couple of times during lockdown. But knowing my luck, it would end up looking like a doormat!
Yesterday afternoon after being out shopping, I got myself sorted and looked through all my recipe books for a suitable Focaccia recipe. I started with Paul Hollywood’s recipe in his How To Bake book but soon changed my mind when he said to use a square plastic tub for proving your Focaccia in. I didn’t have one in the same size and why square sized? I found another recipe online and it seemed so much more straightforward. I wanted to use my traybake tin to bake it in.
I thought it would be best if I worked the dough with my dough hook on my KitchenAid Mixer as I’d heard that Focaccia bread dough can be very wet. Not only that, but my hands are so hot that any dough would stick to it. I looked in the baking drawer in my kitchen to find my dough hook attachment. I couldn’t find it anywhere. Come to think of it, I hadn’t seen it for ages so I asked my daughter. She hadn’t seen it either. Cue ordering a new one- £27 poorer now! But that wouldn’t help me there and then so I had to work the dough with my hands.
I really struggled to knead the dough. I sprinkled lots of flour on the worktop but it just turned into a big gloopy mess. I managed to turn it around by finding my dough scraper to move it around the worktop. Eventually I managed to knead it somehow.
After ten minutes kneading, I put the dough to prove in my laundry room which gets quite warm when I have the tumble dryer on. As luck would have it, I was drying some laundry as it was raining cats and dogs outside (again!) After 2 hours, it was 5pm and I checked the dough. It had risen but not much. How frustrating. I thought I would try and see how it went after the second proving.
This time the dough was pressed into my traybake tin and left for its second proving on top of the tumble dryer! This did the trick and after 3/4 hour, it was ready to go in the oven.
I poked large holes in the foccacia and sprinkled it with salt and Italian herbs. It had loads of olive oil drizzled onto it and then it was put into the oven to work its magic.
Meanwhile I prepared our dinner: some of it was an assembly job and the rest was simple heating up. I fried some jumbo garlic prawns and made a tomato pasta sauce to go with some gorgeous Mezzaluna pasta I’d found in a local shop which looked heavenly.
I served the Foccacia with our anti pasti platter with extra olive oil dipping sauce on the side. I was really happy with how the bread turned out in the end, even though I wasn’t convinced at first. Mr S said it tasted delicious. As it was just the two of us for dinner, there was a lot left over. I’m not sure if it would last more than one day.
What is your favourite type of baking? Are you a cake person or do you prefer bread where you can get kneading? I’d love to know. Have you any great bread making tips you’d love to share. I’d really appreciate them.
Love Sam xx