Hello and welcome to all about food. This week is all about bread - a subject with which I could fill this newspaper! Baking bread has to be one of my favourite rituals. Not only do I enjoy carrying on the tradition from my mum and her mother, I also find bread making very therapeutic. In don’t think anything in the world beats the smell of freshly baked bread!
I have been using your brown bread recipe for some months now and I am thrilled that it’s such a success with the family. I would like to broaden my range a little and feel ready to tackle yeast bread! Do you have a recipe I could try?
Tara, Ennis Road
Bread has received the unfair reputation of being difficult to make; a title unduly shared with risottos, soufflés and pastry. I have yet to meet someone who would agree with this once they have started baking for themselves. So how do you get started?
I simply recommend entering into bread preparation with sheer abandon! The more you work with yeast, the more confidence gained.
For some additional hints and tips check out www.gingergirl.ie/tips.php
Rosemary & Red Onion Focaccia
500g of ‘00’ or strong white flour
15g sachet of dried yeast
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of caster sugar
350ml of lukewarm water
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 red onions, finely sliced
A handful of fresh rosemary
Extra olive oil and sea salt for topping.
Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a jug, mix the yeast and water. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid plus two tablespoons of olive oil. Using your fingers mix together until combined into a slightly wet, workable dough. Lightly flour your work surface and tip out the dough. Knead for at least ten minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place (in the kitchen near the oven or in the hot press) for one hour to allow the dough to double in size. Meanwhile, gently fry the onions in a little olive oil for five minutes until soft and set aside to cool.
When the dough has risen, return to the work surface and knead for a couple of minutes to knock the air out. Using a little olive oil, lightly grease a baking tin (approx 25x35cm). Stretch and spread the dough into the tin and leave to prove (rise) for another twenty minutes.
Spread the cooked onions over the dough and press your fingers all over the dough to make dimples. Sprinkle on the rosemary and a little sea salt and drizzle with olive oil. Place in a preheated oven at 200ºc and bake for half an hour or until golden brown. Allow to cool before serving.
Let your imagination take over when making focaccia. Try adding sage or thyme into the dough before baking. Other good focaccia toppings include feta cheese and black olives, brie and bacon lardons, roast garlic, sun blused tomatoes, anchovies, roast peppers, courgettes, parmesan or mozzarella cheese. Happy experimenting!
Gingergirl ,aka Helen Keown, is an artisan food producer who produces a range of handmade luxury jams, preserves and chutney’s made from local, seasonal or organic ingredients. Helen’s produce is available nationwide from independent food emporiums and is also available at selected food delis across Europe.
Letters to ‘gingergirl’ c/o The Limerick Leader, 54 O’Connell St. Limerick.
You can follow gingergirl’s on Twitter – under gingergirlfood or on Facebook – under ‘gingergirl’.