With 2015 well on its way I find myself with a lot of spare time. University only starts in a month and everyone is back at work, leaving me and my thoughts to ourselves. I’ve recently started reading Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak, not only do I find certain aspects of this book to be relevant in life but I find that it’s almost like a handbook on how to treat yourself and those around you. At first I could only describe it as philosophical, but as I continued I realised that most of the ‘rules’ actually apply to me personally. If you’re looking for a good read I recommend this!
Which brings me to today’s post. In the book, one of the main characters Ella, shares the same love for food that I do. One of the quotes that specifically stood out to me was, “nothing reminds a man of home like the smell of freshly baked bread, never buy your bread. Bake it yourself, honey. It will work wonders.” And honey do I agree!
I love how a home is instantly warmed by the scents of freshly baked bread. I love the aroma of freshly prepared baked goods wafting around my home it gives me a sense of comfort. I particularly need to point out how easy it is to make bread. There’s no need for fancy bread makers or equipment, your hands are all you need. I’ve noticed a lot of people using bread machines, which I have no problem with, but I also need to point out that bread making is an artisanal procedure. Meaning that it’s a skill which requires craftsmanship, it requires you to experience the texture and quality first hand. In order to make good quality bread you need a great amount of attention and care. If you really need the assistance bring out your dough hook for a little help. Take my advice feel the dough, get involved it’s so rewarding.
The focaccia I made this week was packed with tantalizing flavours. I decided to keep the feta and caramelised onion combination as the flavours are so amazing together. I added succulent strips of honey marinated beef to the topping and used baby leaf spinach to complete the dish. (You could use rocket)
Bread Recipe (via ICCA)
- 250g flour
- 5 gm yeast
- 4 gm salt
- 160 ml water (warm) or A/R for a soft dough
- 30 ml olive oil
For the toppings you can use anything you want these are the toppings I chose:
- 1 onion cut into rings
- 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup feta cheese
- Baby spinach leaves to garnish
- ½ kg steak cut into strips
- ½ tsp red chilli powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp BBQ spice
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 1/2 tsp crushed ginger
- ½ tsp red chilli paste
- 1 tsp lemon pepper
For the bread:
- In a large bowl mix together flour, yeast, water and salt (NB do not pour the salt directly over the yeast). Combine to form a soft dough
- Thereafter, remove from the bowl, add the olive and knead it until the oil is well absorbed by the dough
- Coat your bowl with a little olive oil and put the dough back in. cover with cling film.
- Wrap the bowl with a cloth and leave it in a warm dark place to proof. Rest for about 45 to 60 min or until doubled in size
- *Knock back the dough and then add in the herbs that you prefer (e.g. , basil or oregano)
- Shape your dough, I prefer to lightly oil a baking tin and shape my dough within it
- Sprinkle with some rock salt and then leave it to **proof again for about 45-60 min or until doubled in size.
- Thereafter add your pre-cooked steak, feta and caramelised onions
- Bake at 180ᵒC for 18 to 20 min fan forced
- Remove from oven and drizzle with olive oil and top with spinach or rocket.
For the topping
- In a pot cook the strips half way in the marinade. Use olive oil if necessary
- Slice your onion into rings and caramelize in the balsamic vinegar until the balsamic becomes slightly sticky and the onions become soft
- Cube your feta and scatter over the top.
- Work your topping in my using your fingers as a claw to push the toppings into the dough.
I was very pleased with my bread especially because initially I was terrible at it, but practice really does make perfect!
This bread can be served as a main meal for two accompanied by a fresh side salad, or it can be served as a starter or side dish. However it is very filling so you would have to alter it to your liking.
I’d love to see how yours turns out
*knock back – refers to the action by which you place your dough on a surface and gently knock the
air out of it by patting it with your palms.
**proof- allow the dough to rise under controlled conditions