Hello there everybody. I really appreciate you taking time to read my blog. Thank you. I hope it inspires & encourages you, makes you think and most of all makes you smile!!!
So this week in our house is all about birthdays!!!!!
Our Lil Man will be 12 this week, it’s also my sister & Dad’s birthday in the same week!!!
Definitely time for ‘FEASTING, CELEBRATING and FUN’!!!!!
Covert baking operations during the day – ready for surprises on their special days. Ooh I love a celebration – well that is as long as I’m not the center of attention!
Fortunately, shyness is not something our son could ever be accused of having! His enthusiasm & passion for life is infectious and wonderful to see. He waits all year for his birthday and the night before, without fail, he reaches ‘ready to explode’ status!!!!
Christmas is the same for him, times a gazillion!!!!!
I adore his passion & zest for life (even if at times it can be exhausting & overwhelming!!!!!).
Soo to make life a bit easier on myself today: I grabbed a previously, made & frozen, chicken & bacon pasta bake from the freezer last night & left it to defrost in the fridge overnight ( and yes – I did feel a tiny little bit smug!!!).
Then, because I have a bread maker that makes my life (in the world of bread baking), sooo much easier, I decided to whip up a couple of these GARLIC and ROSEMARY FOCACCIA BREAD. And because I’m a nice person & the recipe is a dream, I thought I’d share it with you!
GARLIC AND ROSEMARY FOCACCIA BREAD: makes 2 loaves.
You will need 2 x lightly oiled 8×8″ square tins ( with at least 2″ depth), or – 1 larger oiled baking tray (2″ deep) to bake one large focaccia.
PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 220C (200C Fan Oven)
1lb Strong Plain White Flour
300ml Warm (hand hot) Water
1 x 7g Sachet, Easy Blend Yeast
2 tbs Olive Oil (plus extra for drizzling over bread, oiling baking tins & cling film)
1 tsp Salt – for bread mix
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper for top of the bread
2 tbs Fresh Rosemary – finely chopped
8 Garlic Bulbs (4 for bread mixture, 4 for topping the bread).
When using a bread maker or stand mixer:
Place the warm water into the pan or bowl of the device you are using, making sure the dough hook is attached to the stand mixer.
Sprinkle over the sachet of dried, activated yeast & swish about with clean fingers to mix.
Next place the flour on top of the liquid mixture. Add the oil & salt.
Now add 1 tbs of the finely chopped Rosemary & salt.
Add in four minced bulbs of garlic. I’m a very big fan of my garlic press (no peeling or chopping), but you may chop, process, squish with the back of your knife (please don’t write in with other methods for finely mincing garlic – just be happy that you’re unique!!).
Now mix & prove (if using a bread maker). With a stand mixer, attach the dough hook & mix for 8-10 minutes, until the dough has a silky, stretchy, elasticity about it.
If kneading by hand, bring all the ingredients together & work (knead) the dough until you can feel the change, when the dough again stretches easily & feels silky to touch – a good way to check that the dough has been worked enough is that it should be hard to tear.
Shape the dough into a ball & place into an oiled bowl, then turn the ball over, so the top has an oily layer & cover tightly with cling film. Place in a warm draught free place until doubled in size (about an hour).
Prepare the baking tins (or large tin if only using one) by placing some oil in the tin (approx 1tsp for a smaller tin) & then using your fingers (I like the squishy feeling – whilst also getting a cuticle treatment: multi tasking. Genius!!!) or using a piece of kitchen towel to completely cover the inside of the tin with a light slick if oil.
Talking of fingers, if you have long nails it’s probably easier to apply the oil with the kitchen cloth. It also probably means you look after your hands & nails & may not need a quick, olive oil cuticle treatment!!! Just saying, I NEED the treatment!!!!
If using a bread machine switch on to knead cycle to knock the dough back for a minute. With the dough in the bowl, remove the cling film & gently punch down (enjoy the soft enveloping feeling!)the dough to knock out the air bubbles & gently knead by hand for 2 minutes.
Divide the dough in two (or leave whole if making a larger Focaccia) using a sharp knife or a dough cutter.
Place half the dough into each tin (or all into one tin).
NOW is the absolutely BEST thing about making this type of bread (if you loved making mud pies when you where younger, or maybe still do – you’re going to LOVE this next bit!!!!!!).
Using your the heel of your hand, gradually press the dough out until it reaches the edges of the tin & is roughly the same thickness across the tin.
Next using your fingers, have great fun making lots & lots & lots of dimples in the dough – to give it the classic focaccia look.
Can you tell how much I really love that part. Sooo much fun!!!
Drizzle a little olive oil, sprinkle some sea salt flakes, (I use Maldon), the rest of the finely minced Rosemary, a grinding of pepper & the rest of the garlic (split over 2 tins if making 2 Focaccia loves).
Lightly oil some cling film:
TOP TIP: Using a clean wet cloth wipe some of your work surface so that it is damp – when you lay your cling film over the top it will lay flat & not attempt to attach itself to itself, you, random kitchen objects!! You can then easily spread a light coating of oil over the cling (using your hands – my fav, a pastry brush or some oil poured onto the cling & spread with kitchen paper).
I KNOW there’s oil in the dough, the tin has been oiled, you’ve just drizzled oil on top of the focaccia – JUST TRUST ME!!!
Most of the time you could get away with not oiling the cling, but – and it’s happened to me – it WON’T EVER STICK if you oil the cling!
Cover the top of the tin with the oiled cling (so it’s airtight) & leave in a warm, draught free place until doubled in size – OR – place the dough in the fridge, it will take longer to rise & the bread will develop a lovely flavour. It’s your dough – do whatever you fancy.
ANOTHER IMPORTANT TIP – I have successfully risen the dough slowly in the fridge, completely forgotten about it, so it quadruples in size, then knocked it back by recreating the dimpled effect, as before, left to rise & it’s turned out fine!!!!
Bake the focaccia in a preheated oven for 15 – 20 mins (longer if baking a one loaf), until a golden colour & still quite soft.
Remove from oven, take a deep breath, the smell is intoxicating, leave to cool for 10 mins in the tin, run round the outside with a palette knife until you can feel the loaf easing from the tin. Turn the bread out & place onto a cooling rack, repeat with second tin.
The bread will be marshmallowy soft & is fine to serve warm as is. Or cool, wrap in foil & freeze for up to one month.
If you prefer a slight crust to your focaccia, 10 mins before serving, place the bread directly on to the rack of a preheated oven (as for baking the dough) for 5 – 10 mins, depending on how crusty you like it.
Because this bread is thinner than a loaf, you can cut or tear the bread whilst still warm.
This bread goes with any dish you would normally serve garlic bread with. It also goes fantastically well with soup. Spicy vegetable, leek & potato are especially good with this bread. It is ideal for dunking!
One focaccia is plenty for our family of five, so I wrap in foil & freeze the other one.
A final VERY BIG THANK YOU to those of you who have looked at this post whilst it was unfinished. I’m sorry it took a while, but hope the finished blog was worth it.
THIS REALLY IS ONE OF THE EASIEST AND MOST IMPRESSIVE BREADS TO MAKE.
I really hope you give it a try. You can vary the herbs. I’ve used Thyme, Oregano & SHOCK/HORROR dried mixed herbs!!!!
Ooh I’m such a rebel!! But seriously, it works better with the woodier herbs (rather than parsley/fennel) mentioned. Soft herbs I find are better mixed with butter & oil, then slathered into a baguette/ciabatta (part bake baguettes work well for this!).
Until next time, I hope you have fun giving this recipe a go and enjoy feasting with whoever you share it with.
See you soon. Sammie xx