I'm a convert. To the world of carbs and their awesomeness! More specifically breads and creating them. I cannot explain the pleasure one gets from getting your hands dirty, stretching and kneading the dough and finally taking a whiff of the warm, doughy, yeasty smell that fills your house and only comes from freshly baked bread. I have always believed that home-made breads have a fresh taste of their own and can not be compared to the ones available in the markets.
I know a lot of people who are scared of the bread monster because something I've commonly heard is that people find the process tricky. I remember my mum trying to make dinner rolls for us at home once, which turned out to be a disaster. The rolls were like tiny, unbreakable rocks and we could have used them as golf balls if we played the sport. Apart from homemade pizza, we never tried to tackle the monster again. Until now.
The March issue of BBCGood Food Magazine India had an entire section on breads. That was my source of inspiration. With a wide range to choose from, I tried making the Italian Focaccia. A flat-bread, its easy and forgiving, which means that you can hardly go wrong with it. Its full of the lovely flavours of Olive Oil, and you can go crazy with the topping. Making your own Focaccia from scratch is a very gratifying experience and you get the freedom to personalize it and bake it to your own taste.
Make Your Own Homemade Breads!
Garlic, Pepper & Jalapeno Focaccia
- 4 cups Maida all purpose flour
- 1 cup water Lukewarm
- 1 tablespoon Active Dry Yeast I've used both Blue Bird & Red Star with great results
- 2 tsps Sugar
- 5 6 tbsps Olive Oil
- Your desired topping Jalapeno, Sliced Onions, Garlic Olives Cloves, Red Bell Peppers
- 2 tsps Salt
- Take half a cup of lukewarm water and add sugar and yeast to it. Leave it untouched for 5-10 minutes till the yeast is frothy (In case the yeast doesn’t become frothy in ten minutes, throw the mixture and start again. )
- Combine the flour and salt. You can either use a food processor or mix by hand.
- Add the frothy yeast mixture. If you are using a hand mixer or food processor, only run it at low-speed until combined. After the mixture comes together, notch up the speed and knead for another 2-3 minutes. If kneading by hand, knead for 4-5 minutes. The mixture will be sticky, but avoid adding too much flour while kneading.
- Add olive oil and knead for another minute. Lightly brush or spray a bowl with olive oil/ vegetable oil, place the dough and rotate it to cover all sides with a thin coat of oil from the container. The size of the bowl should be at least double the size of the dough, to give leeway for the dough to rise.
- Cover the bowl with cling film and leave it for 40 minutes or till the dough becomes double in size.
- Once the dough is double in size, punch it down to release all air, and knead for a minute or two. Place the dough on a greased baking sheet and flatten it out, to help it take the rectangular shape of the baking sheet.
- Dimple the surface of the dough with your fingers and stick the topping in the holes. Brush lightly with olive oil.
- Cover the baking sheet lightly with a wet cloth without pressing it down, to give the dough space to rise. Let the dough prove for 20-30 minutes till you can see a significant difference in the size of the dough. Bake at 200 degrees for 20 minutes, till the top is golden and when you tap the bottom, it sounds hollow.
- Let the bread rest for half an hour, slice it up, and take a big bite!