If you haven’t seen the film Anchorman, you should, right now. Stop reading this post and go rent it. I’m serious.
Those of you that have will no doubt remember Ron Burgundy singing at his scotch:
I love scotch.
Scotchy scotch scotch.
Here it goes down, down into my belly…….
And so on.
Well today I am here to confess that I feel much the same way about bread. It’s sad really, scotch and bread don’t really have a lot in common, one takes 18 years to mature, is smooth and effortlessly cool and the other is, well, just bread. But the heart (and by heart I of course mean belly) wants what it wants.
If someone told me in the morning I could never eat bread again I think I might consider slapping them; at the very least I’d shout at them, loudly. I always feel sorry for those women in glossy magazines who profess the benefits of a carb-free diet. I mean, they may be skinny, rich and successful, but could they really be happy? I doubt it. But then again, the less bread they eat, the more there is for me, whoop!
Magic stuff, that yeast!
Making your own bread is a lot less effort than you’d think and the results are oh so worth it. You just need time and a little elbow grease. The recipe I’m sharing today is one I’ve adapted from Maureen Tatlow’s The Back to Basics Cookbook. I’ve tweaked it a bit to suit my tastes and I just love it.
There are just two things to point out with it, if you don’t put in the requisite kneading time your bread will be heavy and dense; but hand-kneading for 10 minutes is a kind of exercise and so in a way makes up for the delicious carb overload that’s coming. The second thing is, this bread doesn’t keep well, you really need to eat it on the day it’s made, although it does toast really well on the day after. So adjusting the quantities to suit your hunger levels ain’t a bad idea.
Rosemary flecked focaccia
Makes 2 medium loaves
600 g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
50 g rye flour
1 tsp caster sugar
1 x 7 g sachet yeast
400 – 450 ml lukewarm water
2 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra
3 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped, plus a little extra for topping off the bread
2 tsp salt flakes
You’re going to make a mess while making this, so it’s best you square with that from the get go. Roll up your sleeves, stick on an apron and wash your hands before you start.
In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients until they are totally combined. Make a small hollow in the centre and pour in the water and oil, stir everything together into a moist and sticky dough. Maureen advises erring on the side of wetness, as it’s much easier to incorporate more flour if necessary.
Turn your dough out on a clean, lightly floured surface and knead energetically for 10 minutes, you’ll feel the texture of the dough change and become more elastic and pliable as you go. Add only as much additional flour as is absolutely necessary to bring the dough together, as the more moist the dough, the lighter your bread will be. Shape into a rough ball.
Rub the ball of dough in a little olive oil and place in a clean, dry bowl. Cover and leave to rise for about an hour in a warm spot, longer if it’s a little cooler.
Punch the dough down and divide into two loaves. Carefully kneed half the rosemary into each loaf, then leave to rest, covered with a tea towel for a further 10 minutes.
Roll out each of the loaves to fit a fairly wide baking tray that has been lightly greased with olive oil. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise again for about 10 minutes. Finally, with your fingers, poke deep dimples all over the risen dough and sprinkle on the salt, olive oil and remaining rosemary.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200 ° C for about half an hour or until it is crusty and golden and smells irresistible.
The smell of this as it’s cooking ensures that it won’t last long. I guarantee you’ll be salivating before it even comes out of the oven. And of course, feel free to mix up the deliciousness, while rosemary is my favourite, I’ve also made this bread with black and green olives and sundried tomatoes, so add in anything else you fancy.
Then get it in your belly!
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