We are totally hooked on the show The Great British Bake Off. Completely sucked in. Not only do you get great tips on baking, history of the baked goods, and great ideas, but it is such a refreshing competition. Stateside, a lot of the food competitions are high pressure, overly dramatic, and people like Gordon Ramsey pound the table and scream a lot. This one, every one is friendly.
Of course my husband and I are adding to our list of things we want to try to bake. Yesterday I tried Paul Hollywood’s Focaccia Bread. I find people’s approaches to known breads fascinating. Paul’s approach seems more modern while Dan Leader’s approach is more old world. Dan Leader’s recipe takes two days vs a few hours with Paul Hollywood’s recipe.
In a mixing bowl add 500 grams flour, two teaspoons salt, 12g yeast, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Now it’s been mentioned on the show that the salt shouldn’t touch the yeast. Well at least until you mix it all together. Most recipes don’t mention keeping them separate. So I’m interested in researching this more. However, the end result didn’t seem that different from other recipes. It may be a preference more than anything else.
Add 300ml of lukewarm water.
Mix well then add, slowly, an additional 100ml of lukewarm water. This is a very wet and sticky dough. When this is fully incorporated knead by hand in the bowl for 5 minutes.
I found this part hard given my height to the counter and it’s not easy for me to do that with my shoulder issues but do the best you can. Then you have to stretch the dough and fold it over itself, for another five minutes, turning the bowl as you do this. One good trick that was given on the show was to oil the surface you will knead on and oil your hands. Doing this rather than using flour will keep the dough moist. Turn out the dough onto the oiled surface.
Knead for a further 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Spray the bowl with oil and place the dough into the bowl. Spray cling film with oil and cover the bowl. Prove until the dough doubles in size. This took about an hour or so.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough and press the pieces into rectangles and dimple the surface. Cover with oiled cling film. Be careful not to have the cling film pin down the dough. It needs room to rise.
Prove for another hour. Preheat the oven to 425F/220C/Gas 7. Once it is ready to bake drizzle the surface with olive oil. I put a little to much on. Sprinkle sea salt over it.
We usually put in ice cubes in a hot cast iron skillet but we thought we’d try water. As I had two loaves to bake I did ice with one and water with the other. Because this only bakes for 20-25 minutes I didn’t notice a huge difference. We did on my husband’s boule but that bakes for an hour and there was a difference there. At any rate bake the focaccia until golden brown.
Much, much different from the bread you get in restaurants. Doing research online, I wonder what is actually made in the restaurants, because what I made matched the images rather than the other stuff.
It was very crispy on the crust and soft in the middle. Perfect for dipping in olive oil. This does make a lot so thank goodness for the freezer!
Now to decide what to bake next!