The weather here is so nice now that I don’t want to spend all day everyday pottering round the kitchen (eek I can’t believe I’m writing this), even though food and cooking remain very high in my list of priorities and enjoyment.
So today, with a plan of a long walk with Murphy my Irish Setter puppy on the cards and a wish to have fresh baked focaccia with insalata caprese for dinner, I decided to get cracking in the kitchen early.
Baking early in the day is such a rewarding thing to do. Not only do you know the day is your own to do with as you please but that at the end of it you will have something special and delicious to eat. Now someone please tell me what could be better than that?
Focaccia is a very simple bread to make, although as with the majority of yeasted breads it is rather a lengthy process. It doesn’t however require constant attention so you are free to go about daily life and just pop back and fro to the dough.
I love focaccia, it’s a deeply flavoured, crisp topped but slightly chewy bread that is great with almost everything. Frequently it is studded with rosemary before reaching the oven but today I decided to use chunks of black olives. Simply because I wanted to use them up, nothing from my excursion to the Italian market will be going to waste, especially not when I have no idea when another event like it is likely to happen.
The recipe for the focaccia comes from a fabulous pocket sized bread book, Exceptional Breads: Baker & Spice (Dan Lepard & Richard Whittington). As I said it’s only a small book but there are plenty of lovely recipes and lots of step by step guides to dealing with dough, the majority of which are photographed stage by stage too, which is great for this type of topic.
What better to drink while happily baking Italian bread than gorgeous naturally fizzy Italian water – San Pellegrino to be precise with a little vanilla syrup added? It’s so thirst quenching and as such it’s become my summer tipple of choice.
I am also very happy to report that unlike the last insalata caprese I had the mozzarella this time was superb, delivered this morning from Fratelli Camisa. Creamy, fresh and absolutely gorgeous. Paired with fresh organic tomatoes and home grown basil, oh I could go and on about how good this tastes but I’m guessing I’ve said enough already.