10 November 2013

Branching Out

As most of you know .... not least because I probably bore you all to death every time I mention it ...... I have a stall at a local produce market three days a week. The things that I usually sell there are all made using my temperamental sewing machine and whatever gorgeous fabric takes my fancy at the time and these things seem to sell quite well but it can sometimes be a bit hit and miss and some weeks are better than others. I have noticed, however, that food items seem to sell particularly well and having recently completed a food hygiene course, I was keen to have a go at producing something delicious and foodie to sell myself. I was thinking of making bread. I bake bread for myself almost every day and although it's time consuming, I was convinced I could make it work so, a couple of weeks ago, I set about having a practice to see how many loaves of bread I could bake in the evening from about 5pm, which is about the time I get back from the market and would be the amount of time I would have available to actually bake the bread on market days. Turns out, there just isn't enough time to bake anywhere near enough bread to supply the market, partly because of timing issues and partly because my oven isn't really big enough to fit more than 2 baking trays in at once so, refusing to be defeated, I was pondering this dilemma while reading my daughters blog, (which is here if you would like to have a look) and I remembered that she had made some focaccia. This was my Eureka moment! I promptly searched the internet for a suitable focaccia recipe and after trying out 3 different recipes, I finally found one that worked for me. Be warned, however, not all focaccia recipes are the same, some of them have a dough that is quite wet and very sticky and you just have to persevere and try not give in to the temptation to add extra flour. In fact, if you have a free standing mixer, I would suggest you make it in that instead of wrestling with a bowl full of uncooperative dough! I don't have one and frankly can't afford one as the one I really, really, REALLY like is £399 and when you consider the car I'm driving at the moment only cost me £350 it kind of puts it into perspective :-)

I made 3 varieties, sundried tomato and feta, rosemary and sea salt and caramelised onion and I took them to the market this week to see how they would sell. I was amazed. Every one of them sold and people even came back and ordered more. I'm now on a mission to find even more delicious varieties to make and I have even found some sweet focaccia recipes which I'm going to try out this week. 

Anyway, here is one of the the recipes I tried, in case you want to give it a try. This recipe seems to be less sticky than the rest of them and the one I am now using. 

Here is the link to the recipe page is here if you want to have a look at the website. 


For the dough
For the topping

Preparation method

  1. To make the dough, put the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Mix the olive oil with the warm water and pour it on to the flour mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon and then bring the mixture together with your hands to form a rough ball.
  2. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes to make a smooth, pliable and fairly soft dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave to rise for about an hour in a warm place until it has doubled in size.

  3. Lightly oil a large baking tray measuring about 36cm x 25cm/14in x 10in.
  4. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knock it back with your knuckles. Press the dough into a rough rectangle, about the size of the baking tray, then carefully place it on the baking tray and ease it out towards the edges. Don’t worry too much about how it looks – it’s meant to be rustic.

  5. Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for a further 30 minutes to prove.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
  7. After 30 minutes, the focaccia should look puffed up and spongy. Use your index finger to poke dimples all over the dough right through to the bottom of the tray.
  8. To make the topping, drizzle the focaccia with the three tablespoons of olive oil, allowing it to seep into the dimply holes. Sprinkle with the sea salt, black pepper and chopped rosemary. Finish by poking the twiggy sprigs of rosemary randomly into the dough.
  9. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 15–20 minutes or until risen and deep golden brown. Serve warm.