Apologies for not posting as frequently as I’d have liked. I’ve just finished my January exams (yay!) and so to celebrate/make up for the lack of posting I thought I’d try something new – 7 recipes in 7 days! To start off with, I’m doing my homemade focaccia recipe. Me and my Dad (who is the son of a baker) are bread fiends, and seem to be able to keep eating this forever. It is perfect to go alongside Italian dishes like pasta and salads, but it’s great to have with soup as well. Alternatively, it serves as the ultimate bread to make sandwiches in, but it’s so good on its own, you might not want anything else with it! This is a very simple recipe, but there is huge room for customisation. I often really enjoy using cherry tomatoes and basil, or you could try artichoke hearts and crushed new potatoes if you wanted to make it more of a meal. Let me know what flavours you would try on Instagram (@OTCooks_Eats) or in the comments below.
This makes 1 gigantic loaf or 2 smaller loaves. Either way, its enough for about 4 people as a side/accompaniment to a meal. Here’s the recipe:
- 500g strong white bread flour + excess flour to work with
- 7g sachet of yeast
- 325ml luke warm water
- 2 tsp sea salt
- A pinch of caster sugar
- Olive oil
- 6-8 springs of rosemary
- 6-8 cloves of garlic
- Knob of butter
- Pour the yeast into the water along with the pinch of sugar, and whisk until combined. Leave for a few minutes to begin to activate the yeast.
- Pour the 500g flour into a large mixing bowl, mixing through the salt and a generous glug of olive oil.
- Pour the yeast mixture into the flour, and bring it together with a wooden spoon, until it is very difficult to mix. At this point, scrape the dough off the spoon, and begin to bring the remaining dough together with your hands. Combine all the bits of dough in the bowl, until you are left with 1 ball of dough.
- Flour a clean work surface, and begin to knead the dough. The easiest way to describe this is by stretching the dough. Hold one end, and then push the other end away from you, as in the picture below. Then, fold the dough over itself, and repeat the process. This again helps to activate the yeast and the gluten in the flour, and will result in a lovely fluffy, pillow-like bread. Feel free to use a lot of excess flour for this, as the dough does become very sticky at points.
- Keep kneading for 5 or so minutes, until the dough feels very elastic. Then, fold the dough in on itself at the bottom, until you are left with a lovely smooth ball of dough
- Alternatively, you could use a machine with a dough hook to do this, but having tried both, you can somehow taste the love and care that goes into the hand kneaded one!
- Rub a small amount of olive oil around the bowl in which you mixed the dough in. (this prevents the dough from sticking to the bowl). Transfer the kneaded ball of dough into the bowl, dust with a little flour, and place a damp tea-towel on top of the bowl. Then, leave the bowl in a warm, dry place for 60-75 minutes to prove (rise).
- Pre-heat your oven to 200C. After this time, remove the tea towel, and knock back the dough (punching it is usually a good, and very satisfying method). Then, transfer the dough onto a heavily floured pizza tray, or snug fitting baking dish. Do not use a double bottomed tray, as this will not properly cook the base, and will leave it soggy. Once on the tray, shape into your preferred loaf shape – I usually go for roughly a long oval, but it doesn’t have to be perfect, nor should it be – rustic is best!
- Pour a little boiling water over the rosemary, then dry it off. This will begin to release the wonderful smells and oils within the herb. Drizzle it with some olive oil, and then prick the focaccia, studding it with the rosemary. Peel the garlic cloves, and prod them into the loaf as well, leaving about half of each clove peeping out of the top of the bread. Finally, drizzle generously with olive oil, season generously with salt, and place into the oven. Cook until the outside is a nice golden brown, usually about 20-25 minutes.
- Once cooked, remove from the oven, and let it cool for 2 minutes. Once slightly cooler, rub the knob of butter all over the top, making sure every part of the loaf gets coverage. Slice the loaf up, and enjoy!
I really hope you like this one, especially all those who enjoy bread, cakes or any other baking goodness. There’s so many different ways you can take it. Let me know if you like the recipe either on here, or on Instagram (@OTCooks_Eats), and tell your friends about the blog and the account. Would be great to see a few people trying this one! Stay tuned for the rest of the week, where there will be a recipe every day, and use the hashtag #7recipes7days.