Monday, 8 October 2007

Focaccia and the history of my bread baking

I love bread. All kinds of bread. Baguettes, Sourdough, flatbreads, crusty breads, soft breads, you name it. I'm still pretty much a novice when it comes to baking bread. I can still count my bread making endeavours on one hand and I can still tell you about each of them.....

The first time I ever, ever made bread was when I made a Corn Bread. That turned out really, really well as no yeast was used.

So 1-0 to me!

The second time, I got a little more adventurous and tried out a Focaccia recipe I found of the web. This required kneading and proofing but of course, being the novice I was, I didn't quite know how to proof much less knead. The bread turned out rather tough although it was still edible - just about. So there was the equaliser for the bread. The score now 1-1.

Not to be disheartened, I flipped through some recipe books and learnt about baking bread without using yeast. Yay! That sounds like fun. There was this recipe for Beer Bread which claimed to give it a sort of sourdough like taste. No kneading, no proofing. Just mixing and baking.

Bad doesnt quite describe it. The bread turned out hard and tasteless. Even the beer in it didn't lend it much taste. One goal down now. Dharm 1 - 2 Bread.

I perservered. I tried a Coke bread. I really don't know why I expected drastically different results from the Beer bread attempt, but I did. The Coke Bread turned out pretty much the same. Bad, bad, bad. Dharm 1 - 3 Bread.

So to try and get back in the game, I went back to the Focaccia recipe. This time I talked to a few people and read up a bit more. I learnt that with making bread, texture and consistency was all important. You needed to add flour or water and knead till it was the right consistency. That was all a matter of experience I was told. Clearly I didn't have enough experience as the Focaccia, although clearly an improvement, was still a little tough and dry.

Dharm 1 - 4 Bread. It was beginning to look like the start of a mauling.

Then came the Daring Baker's Cinnamon Roll challenge. I knew that consistency was the key and I also learnt to trust my gut feeling...

And from 30 meters out, a stunning strike into the top left corner of the goal. The crowd erupts.

The cinnamon rolls were soft and tasty - just like the ones sold in the shops! Success!

Dharm 2-4 Bread

I was invigorated. Yeast no longer worried me. Although still a bit wary about consistency, I was so much more confident. And so I decided to try this new Focaccia recipe that my friend KJ at A Cracking Good Egg posted about. She based her recipe on this post over at Delicious Days but adapted it somewhat. I think her adaptations suited me as well! This is the recipe:

Recipe source: adapted from Chefkoch-Forum (German)
Prep time: 5min., rising time: overnight (if possible); baking: 15-20 min.


1 cup (250 ml) tepid water
20g fresh or 1 tsp dry yeast
1 tsp ground sea salt
2 cups flour
olive oil

toppings: coarse sea salt, rosemary, olives...really anything you fancy

In a large bowl, dissolve the 1 tsp of instant yeast in 1 cup of tepid water. Add 1 cup of flour and 1 tspn of salt. Stir for a few minutes.
Add another cup of flour and mix. To get the right consistency, as it is supposed to be soft, sticky and almost liquid, I added another 1/4 cup of water. This is the same issue that KJ had. Stir for another 2-3 minutes.

Set aside in a warm spot to proof. The dough will rise niceley. Pour dough into a cake pan well coated with olive oil. I used a round pan and had to pull the dough a little to shape it. Brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with preferred topping. I just used some oregano, basil and salt.

Bake for 15-20 minutes in a preheated 230C oven.

The Focaccia turned out lovely! Cripsy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Dharm 3-4 Bread. read the scoreline!! The crowd cheers and applauds wildy!

My bread baking is reaching new heights now. Bread may still have the better scoreline but I'm fast catching up.

My daughter loved the bread and in fact ate three pieces in one sitting. And that was before lunch!

This is a picture of her stuffing her face while watching cartoons. Now is there really anything better than making your little princess happy??!!


slush said...

I can truly appreciate this since I feel like the Bread Team is winning against me as well. But I am learning. We shall defeat the bread Dharm! haha

It looks fantastic and pleasing the kids is a sure winner in my book. Shes adorable!!

Karen said...

I am terrible with bread also. I recieved a bread machine a few years for Christmas and I can make decent loafs with the machine. But I may try this focaccia bread this evening. I sounds simple. Congrats on catching up with the Bread Team.

Meeta said...

Oh those rowdy bread bullies. But Dharm you are doing a fantastic job! The focaccia looks great!

KJ said...

Maintain the rage Dharm, LOL :-}

I'm glad you all enjoyed it.

Thanks for the kind mention.

Belinda said...

Wow, are fast catching up to the Bread Team! This focaccia bread looks perfect to me, lovely texture, a happy taste tester...excellent job! :-)

Anonymous said...

Personally, I highly recommend trying the extra-virgin olive oil from Holy Food Imports.
It is imported to the US from Israel, and it is produced using cold presses,
as was the method over 3,000 years ago.


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