Rosemary & Sea Salt Focaccia

Focaccia 1

 

There’s something supremely comforting about focaccia. Maybe it’s the sublimely salty crust, maybe the delightfully squishy insides and maybe the fact that it makes a delightful vehicle for cramming a load of olive oil and balsamic vinegar into your face. Whatever it is, I can’t get enough, but until this past weekend I’d never thought myself capable of whipping up my own loaf.

Focaccia 2

I decided to challenge myself and immediately consulted the Italian Oracle that is Gennaro Contaldo. Not only is he a total authority on Italian food, he also ranks at the top of my list of TV chefs who look like they give amazing hugs (followed closely by Tom Kerridge and Nigella Lawson. Okay so it’s clearly just a top 3).

Focaccia 3

And, my gosh, was I glad I trusted in Gennaro! This bread has the most amazing salty, rosemary scented crust and the inside is soft and airy. It’s insanely easy to make and whilst gorgeous dipped in olive oil, it also makes a perfect sandwich with lashings of dolcelatte cheese, a handful of cherry tomatoes and a couple of cheeky basil leaves. (continue reading…)

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Cherry and Dark Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns 2

Hot cross buns are a major Easter tradition here in the UK. The cross, which symbolises the crucifixion, means that they are traditionally consumed on Good Friday. Every year the supermarkets are jam-packed full of every type you can imagine, from super sophisticated, generously sized buns, (supposedly designed by Heston Blumenthal) to regular own brand, slightly sad and flat looking buns. Whatever the type, if I get through the Easter period without consuming at least one, I always regret it.

Hot Cross Buns  1

Hot cross buns, for the uninitiated, should be sweet, sticky and light, with a good helping of dried fruit and fragrant spices. Best served split through the middle, lightly toasted and slavered in butter, they should be soft, fluffy and warm in the middle and slightly crisp on the outside.

Hot Cross Buns 3

Sadly, shop bought buns don’t always deliver on this score, so I decided it was time to brave the complicated process of making my own. The secret to light and fluffy buns is leaving the dough to rise and prove 3 times, this makes the cooking process take roughly 4 hours, but trust me, it’s worth it. And who doesn’t love a spring morning in the kitchen, baking up a storm? (continue reading…)

Chocolate Hazelnut Buns

Chocolate Hazelnut Buns 1

Pat me on the back, I have officially sorted your Christmas breakfast. Well, that is provided you like chocolate for breakfast, and given that my all time favourite breakfast cereal is cocopops, you know I do.

Chocolate Hazelnut Buns 2

Can you imagine, getting up on Christmas morning and opening your stocking as the beautiful smell of baking drifts around the house. Then sitting down to a soft, warm, chocolately breakfast bun, punctuated with the crunch of hazelnuts? Let’s make it happen!

Chocolate Hazelnut Buns 3

And best of all, you can do the preparation the night before and all you’ll have to do in the morning is pop them in the oven. I can’t imagine anything more perfect! (continue reading…)

Seeded Loaf

Seeded loaf 1

This weekend the freakishly good British summer has finally come to a very depressing end. The skies have opened and it’s time to retreat to the kitchen and crank the oven up to a blisteringly hot temperature.

Seeded loaf 2

One of the finest ways to spend a rainy Saturday morning has to be whipping up a fabulous loaf to provide you with all of your weekend sarnies and toast. There really is nothing quite like the taste of a loaf that you’ve made from scratch with your own fair hands.

Seeded loaf 3

It takes a lot of patience to make a loaf. Even if you use a stand mixer to do the kneading, like I did here (always a good option with a wet dough like this one, but kneading by hand will do the trick too) you’ll still have to wait at least an hour for the dough to rise (or 2 hours with doughs like this one) and then another hour for the loaf to prove after shaping, but I promise it’s worth it. (continue reading…)