Thursday, December 11, 2014

Learn to make Bread: Carrot Focaccia

Hello Everyone!
After an entire week of sweet, delicious gingerbread, today is savoury  baking day. 
Before heading to this day´s recipe, I first would like to show  all of you, my teaspooner friends,  my first photography achievement of the season. You all know I have retaken photography as a hobby after a break of almost 15 years, I have seen myself in need of learning many basics again, and learning a ton more new (Digital SRLs were not even a dream 15 years ago). I have had my good shots and some struggle too...  and nothing made me so happy last Thursday evening as noticing a clear, moonly sky, heading out to the yard, making a few tests with some buttons... and pressing the button  just to find this  surprise in the screen:

To this day I still observe it , and I can´t believe it really succeeded. It obviously came after 50 - 60 different shots of the same in different conditions of light, opening, exposure, a stubborn, shaky tripod, a lot of patience and frozen hands after all. The result was worth it! 

What does a winter moon inspire you, guys? something romantic? mysterious?  to me, cold winter evenings inspire to bake! :D :D. For those of you who don´t know that part of me, I happen to bake a lot at night, specially every time I´m alone at home. I don´t sleep: I  bake.( Last week's Gingerbread decorated cookies were made all in one night).

Today´s recipe was made at night too, but you can make it any time of the day because it will make wonders to your breakfast, lunch or dinner table by accompanying any delicious recipe you prepare. I´m going to teach you how to make bread.

Focaccia Bread. 

Focaccia is a flat oven-baked bread that is very popular in Italy  that is baked in a round, flat form and very much resembles pizza base. You can top it with herbs, olive oil, cheese,sea salt,  tomato; everything that comes to your mind.  It can be used as a side to many meals, as a base for pizza, or as sandwich bread, and can come in many flavors and textures: It´s absolutely one of my favorite ones.  

Making bread from scratch might sound like a difficult task.  It´s not as hard as it seems: All you have to  keep in mind is four things:

1.-Use lukewarm water (Hot "kills" yeast, Cold makes it "sleep")
2.-Don´t ever mix yeast and salt directly together
3.-Give the dough  enough time to grow as recipe indicates
4.- Don´t use more flour that recipe indicates. It dough is sticky and difficult to handle, rub a bit of oil in your hands.

follow this golden rules, and you´ll become a successful bread maker!

Today, We will prepare Carrot Focaccia Bread Squares: Perfect for soups, salads, sandwiches, or even some sweet jam spread on top, the choice is yours!.

Carrot Focaccia:
(12  square pieces)

250 g
carrots (washed, peeled, chopped and smashed into pureé)
350 ml     water
25 g
fresh yeast
1 tsp
1 tsp
630 gr    wheat flour for yeast bread
4 Tbsp
olive oil
1 Tbsp
olive oil
a pinch of coarse sea salt

Heat water until it is lukewarm (as warm as the palm of your hand) and dissolve in yeast, carrot pureé, salt, sugar and 2 Tbs of olive oil. Add gradually flour and knead dough with your hand until it is all integrated.  It may be a little sticky at first, but avoid the temptation of adding more flour than indicated, otherwise your focaccia will turn really hard  and dry. Instead, use a little drizzle of olive oil over your hands to handle the dough without sticking it to your hands. Put dough in a bowl greased with some olive oil, wrap everything with plastic and place it in a warm spot to raise about 45 min. (Tip: I usually turn on the oven to maximal temperature for 3 minutes,  I turn it off and I place my bowl there to save time) 

When dough has grown twice its size, use a knife to deflate it and pour it from the dish to a  slightly floured surface. Knead the dough well and place it in a 25 x 25 baking dish previously greased with the rest of the olive oil.  sprinkle sea salt on top of the dough, drizzle it with more olive oil and let it raise about 15 minutes. 
Bake the bread in the middle rack of your oven 20 minutes (if you want a crunchier crust, let it bake  25-30 min) let it cool down a bit before cutting it in squares. I stays fresh and soft  wrapped  in plastic or aluminum foil at room temperature for 3-4 days.

Don´t miss Saturday post, more tips and tricks  for you!  

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