The aroma of freshly baked bread is one of those comforting and most recognised smells. It has been known to increase your chance of selling our home along freshly brewed coffee when showing round a potentail buyer. The humble white sliced loaf has been in decline for the past couple of years as shoopers shun the toasting favourite and seek out more tradtional and artisian loaves. Small bakeries have sprung up in neighbourhoods that can offer customers ancient varieties using spelt and rye, even supermarkets have begun to offer more than the standard bloomer and french stick
I, for one, love to bake fresh bread on a Sunday afternoon, whether it be a focaccia with chilli or a sundried tomato loaf. I am always experimenting with different flavours and ingredients. I always make double that is needed as my family will happily munch what’s left for breakfast or an afternoon snack when returning from school.
The best thing about making our own bread is that you can decide on what to put in and its easy to make, the base is four ingredients (just like cake). Strong flour, yeast, salt and tepid water. You can then add what ever takes your fancy, dried fruit,seeds and even spices. Below is the simple recipe for a focaccia bread, you can add extras like chilli, tomato puree, herbs as well to create a truly unique bread.
500g Strong bread flour
5g Dried yeast
325ml Warm water
1 Tbsp of Olive oil
Flakey sea salt
Mix the flour, yeast, salt and water together in a bowl to form a sticky dough. Add the oil and knead until smooth and silky. (you can use a food mixer with a dough attachment to speed things up)
Shape the dough into a round and coat with a little olive oil, then place in a well oiled bowl and cover (with a tea towel or cling film). Leave in a warm place to speed things up, I place mine on top of a radiator)
Leave to rise until the dough has doubled in size (45minutes to 1 1/2 hrs)
Oil a shallow baking tray making sure all sides are coated, then tip the dough onto the tray.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C (gas mark 10).
Press the dough in with your fingers, right into the corners. Now leave to rise for a second time covered with a tea towel for 30 minutes.
When the bread looks puffed up and airy, use your fingertips to poke deep holes across the whole surface of the bread almost to the bottom of the tray.
Drizzle the top of the bread with olive oil and sprinkle with the chopped rosemary and sea salt.
Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200 degrees c (gas mark 6) and bake for a further 10 minutes
Focaccia is best eaten warm but not hot. Leave to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.