I recently received a lovely surprise in the post from Baking Mad – a hamper full of flour, yeast, a loaf tin, a dough cutter and bread bag. Baking Mad have teamed up with Allinson Flour and have set us bakers a challenge. The challenge, to bake some bread – it could either be focaccia, tiger bread or a wholemeal wreath.
Baking Mad is a wonderful website which has thousands of recipes for you to try, whether you’re a beginner to baking or more advanced. It also has a great membership area where you can set up your own recipe book, so that any recipes you are interested in baking are always easy to find. I’ve been a member for quite a long time now and frequently look for different things to bake, be it biscuits, pastries, cakes, bread, pies etc etc. Pop over and have a visit – just click on the link above.
After looking at the recipes, I decided to bake the Herb Focaccia as it is one of my favourites. I knew I’d have to adapt the recipe slightly as I only have rosemary growing in the garden at the moment and I didn’t want to use dried herbs. My thyme and oregano are just beginning to shoot again with the recent spell of sunny weather we’ve had this last week, but there wasn’t enough to pick for the topping.
Looking through the recipe, I was surprised to see that sugar was to be added to the dough. For a focaccia I wouldn’t normally use any, so I was intrigued to see what difference this would make. You can find the actual recipe and method here – Focaccia Bread
- 500g Allinson Strong White Bread Flour
- 1 packet Allinson Easy Bake Yeast Sachet (7g)
- 1tsp Golden Caster Sugar
- 2tsp Salt
- 300ml Warm Water
- 50ml Olive Oil
- 12 Sage Leaves
- 5 Rosemary Sprigs
- 5 Thyme or Oregano Sprigs
- 1tsp Sea Salt
First of all the flour, yeast, sugar and salt were put into a bowl and water and olive oil was added. Once the mixture had been brought together to form a dough, the mixture was tipped out onto a board. I didn’t use any flour on my board as I felt the mixture was a little dry compared to the ‘wet’ dough that I’m used to working with.
The dough was kneaded for 10 minutes, after which time it had become smooth and glutenous. The dough was placed into an oiled bowl, covered and left to rise for approximately an hour. By this time it should have doubled in size, but depending on the warmth of your kitchen, it may take slightly longer or slightly less! I was pleased to see that after an hour the dough had more than doubled in size and my kitchen isn’t the warmest in the world!
The dough was taken out of the bowl and put into a lightly oiled 22cm x 32cm baking tin. Using your fingers push the dough into the corners, so that it covers the whole of the tin. Cover it again and leave it to prove for a second time until it has doubled in size.
Turn the oven on at 200C or 180C Fan, gas mark 6.
If you are using the herbs as in the recipe, scatter them over the top, together with the sea salt. Press your fingers into the dough to make dimples. Drizzle with a little more oil and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
I used tomatoes (cut in half) and thinly sliced onions, together with rosemary and sea salt on top of my focaccia and pressed them into the dough as above.
The bread doesn’t have to be in the oven for long before you can begin to smell the lovely aroma of the herbs.
Once baked, remove from the baking tin and leave to cool on a wire rack – well if you can resist – I couldn’t and soon after it was out of the oven I had to tear a piece of to taste it. It was lovely, and if I’m honest I couldn’t taste the sugar in it, so I probably wouldn’t bother to put this in next time.
This way of making focaccia is slightly different to how I usually make it as I usually work with a much wetter dough and put the dough into a bowl of slightly more oil, so I can fold it at intervals to laminate the dough, which allows the dough to incorporate more air. If you want to have a go at how I would make the focaccia normally, then click on my link for Bread Ahead, it doesn’t give you the weights etc as it is a review of my day at one of their bread courses, but if you follow Baking Mad’s recipe but use a little more water and put a couple of centimetres of oil into your bowl when you prove the dough, in order that you can fold the dough to laminate it, I’m sure it will work out!
I’m already a fan of Allinson flour and yeast, so I need no encouragement to try their flours, but I had fun doing the above.
Watch this space, as I will be making the Tiger Bread in the next few days, as this is a loaf I’ve never made before. I will write-up my result on this once I’ve baked it. .
Disclaimer: No money exchanged hands, I have treated the hamper as a gift and was delighted to accept the baking challenge.