I am not very good at kneading… my wrists are quite weak so things like baking my own bread have always been avoided. That said, this is The Cookbook Challenge, and it was bread week – so I had to suck it up and make something!
I originally was just going to do a plain loaf, because seriously, what is better than a fresh loaf of bread in the oven? But then I settled on a foccacia because the boy loves it!
I used my kitchenaid, which did the hardwork of kneading for me, and the rising time between steps gave me the opportunity to get out into the garden and pull out the giant weeds that have taken hold!
I am not sure if baking bread is something I would do regularly, but the foccacia was DELICIOUS! I served it with a soup and it soaked up the liquid wonderfully and gave us a huge feast. I think serving something like this at a dinner party would be great – guests would be impressed and it is surprisingly simple, it is just the time delays in between steps that take the longest.
So, here is a double header recipe for you – the foccacia we made, and the soup (because it was yummy!)
Tomato and Rosemary foccacia
From The Big Book of Baking
500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
1½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp easy blend dried yeast
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, plus extra sprigs to garnish
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
300ml lukewarm water
6 oven dried sun dried tomatoes, halved
1 tsp coarse sea salt
Sift the flour and salt together in a bowl and stir in the yeast and rosemary. Make a well in the centre, pour in 4 tablespoons olive oil and mix quickly with a wooden spoon. Gradually stir in the lukewarm water but do not overmix. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. The dough will be quite wet, do not add more flour.
Brush a bowl with oil. Shape the dough into a ball, put it in the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave it to rise in a warm place for 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in volume.
Brush a baking tray with oil. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock back with your fist, then knead for 1 minute. Put the dough into baking tray and press out into an even layer. Cover the baking tray with damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 240C. Cut the tomato halves in half. Whisk the remaining oil with a little water and dip your fingers into the mixture and press them into the dough to make dimples all over the loaf. Sprinkle with the sea salt. Press the tomato into the dimples, drizzle with remaining oil mixture and sprinkle the loaf with rosemary sprigs.
Reduce the oven temperature to 220C and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly then serve while still warm.
White bean, leek and garlic sausage soup
Taken from the AWW How to Cook Everything
1 cup dried small white beans (I used a can of beans instead to save time)
2 bacon rashers, rind removed, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium leek, thinly sliced
2 trimmed celery stalks, chopped finely (omitted. I think celery is the most evil vegetable ever.)
2 medium carrots, chopped finely
1.5 litres chicken stock
1 bay leaf
4 merguez sausages (I used a gourmet lamb and herb sausage from the butcher.)
- Place beans in medium bowl, cover with water, soak overnight. Rinse under cold water; drain.
- Melt butter in large saucepan; cook bacon, garlic, leek, celery and carrot, stirring until vegetables soften. Stir in stock, bay leaves and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer soup, covered, about 1 hour or until beans are tender.
- Heat oiled frypan; cook sausages until browned. Drain, chop coarsely.
- Just before serving, ladle soup into serving bowls; top with sausage.