6 Sep 2011


The technical bake for the third week of the Great British Bake Off was focaccia.  I was fairly concerned about this because I know that bread making requires a lot of skill and I haven't made bread since I was about 12 and I would not say that I was exactly a child prodigy in bread making.  I was particularly concerned by how much more difficult focaccia seemed to be to make than other sorts of bread on the program, none of the contestants were confident of exactly how to do it.

When I was making the dough for my focaccia it went well for the first part when I had only added half of the water, then it just went downhill from there.  Paul was very clear in the program that if you did not add the water a little at a time then the dough would turn into a mush.  Well I added my water a little at a time and my dough still turned into a mush, so I have no idea what I was doing wrong to make that happen, never mind.  Even with my mushy dough I carried on, trying not to be off-put, thinking that it was ok because some of the bake off contestants had had very wet, mushy dough like mine and it was not a terrible disaster.

After kneading my dough (if you can call it that; it was more like repeatedly scooping it into a pile to stop it from escaping off the edge of the counter) I put in back in the bowl to rise for an hour.  There was no problem with this part of the proceedings, it rose to double the size, according to plan.  I then poured the dough into two lined baking trays and flattened it out, ready to prove for another hour.  However I made the mistake of trusting my treacherous dough to treat me well and not do anything I wouldn't want it to, very bad call.  When I put a damp tea towel on the top of the tray, the dough was so wet that it stuck itself to the towel and I couldn't get it off without losing a substantial amount.  After that I decided to leave the dough to prove without a towel, I don't know if that is wrong, but that is what I did, it seemed to prove fine anyway, so no worries.

After proving I attempted to put some dimples into the bread, managed to get my fingers covered in dough and gave up.  Who needs dimples anyway?  Then I drizzled it with oil and ground some salt on the top (I had no fancy flaked salt to put on) then put it in the oven for 20 minutes.  This is what my bread looked like when it came out.

It was not dimpled but I would not say it was a complete disaster, it was brown and bread-like and it certainly smelled very nice.  I don't really know the exact texture that focaccia is supposed to have so I am not a very good judge of whether it was right or not, I was just very pleased that it seemed to come out of the oven with no major mishaps.  The only thing left was to cut it open to look at its insides and to taste it.  This is what the bread looked like inside.

When I did this I was very, very excited because my focaccia had irregular air holes, which seemed to be the most important defining factor when Paul was judging them on the program so yay for me.  The focaccia was mostly a success, so the dough was mushy, I covered two tea towels in bread dough and didn't manage to make any dimples, I still got some pretty tasty bread with irregular air holes in it and that is the most important thing.

If you want the recipe for the focaccia, here is the link http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/focaccia_08389

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