Best wishes for the holiday season

Hi folks,

This may well be my last post of 2011

Are you ready for the festive season yet? I have just about finished shopping and now I am organising my Christmas baking.
Christmas can be a stressful time for the budding cook, but the simple fact is you have to be organised. Anything you can do to ease the work on Christmas day is a bonus, so prepare sauces and stuffings the day before if possible.

I have just cooked a honey glazed ham and am preparing the veggies for tomorrow. I am so used to this now but I am sure last-minute panic will set in!! I have also just finished baking a Christmas loaf. I have put the recipe in my newsletter (you can sign up here)

I just want to wish you all a Happy Christmas and have a fantastic 2012. Let’s hope that next year will be bigger and better than 2011, and I hope you realise all your hopes and aspirations for the New Year.

Focaccia

Well, I have just had one of my girls turn 13 last week (yikes now I have 2 teenage daughters in the house!) so I spent last weekend frantically baking pizza and focaccia. She absolutely loves this classic tear and share bread and I would like to share the recipe with you. It really is simple and you can “pimp” it with any number of herbs and flavourings. The amounts here will make 1 large focaccia.

Ingredients

For the focaccia                                                To finish

500g strong white bread flour                                          Generous drizzle of olive oil

5g quick yeast (dried)                                                           Coarse sea salt

10g table salt                                                                             Chopped rosemary

325ml warm water

1tbsp olive oil

Combine the flour, yeast, salt and water in a large bowl to form a soft dough, then add the oil. This dough has a higher liquid content than normal bread dough so it may be a little sticky and harder to knead. If you struggle you can use a food processor with a dough hook, mixing on slow speed for about 10 minutes. I prefer to knead by hand so tip the dough onto a floured work surface and flour your hands and knead till smooth and silky.

When the dough has been sufficiently kneaded, shape into a round, coat with a little oil, cover and leave to rise till doubled in size. This will take around 40-60 minutes.

When it has risen, tip out and place on a baking tray measuring about 35 x 25cm and press down to fill the tray. Press the dough right into the corners, cover and leave to rise again for about 30 minutes.

It is also a good idea to preheat your oven now to 2500C. Look at your dough and when it has puffed up you can use your fingertips (lightly floured) to poke holes over the surface of the dough. Next, drizzle a little olive oil over the top, and sprinkle the sea salt and chopped rosemary.

Bake for 10 minutes at 2500C, then reduce the heat to 2000C and bake for another 10-12 minutes. When it is ready remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Focaccia is best served warm. I served mine with a small bowl of olive oil and my leftover pizza tomato sauce for dipping.

I have also added sun-dried tomato to the dough and sprinkled basil over the top. Use your imagination and make it your own, your family and friends will love you for it!

Enjoy…

My FREE Report is ready!

Hi folks,

Just a quick post to let you know that my FREE report detailing the 10 most common problems experienced when baking bread, and ways to avoid them is now available to my email subscribers.

If you want to pick up a copy, click here and I will send you the link.

As always, I value your thoughts and comments so after you have read the report any feedback would be appreciated.

I hope you enjoy it…