Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Blackberry and Hazelnut Focaccia

Baking bread is one of my favourite ways to relax. Sanative, solacing and satisfying it is wonderful way to spend part of any day. However I freely admit that therein lies an issue. Baking bread does usually require a relatively significant period allocated to allow for proving, etc and as joyous as this is, it is always good to have an option with a smaller time requirement (or at least one that affords the opportunity to stage the main tasks at your convenience).

This sweet focaccia is a real show stopper. Beautiful for breakfast, brunch, even as a cheeky lunch it is simple to create, easy to adapt and (most importantly) DELICIOUS to eat. It is also a great one to try if you have limited time, as you can make the dough many hours in advance and leave in the fridge until you are ready to finish it off. I made mine the night before, ready to bake when I awoke the next morning. I could barely sleep I was so excited!

There is just one final point of note. Please feel free to use more or less blackberries or toppings depending on your preference, or even change them entirely. I am only here to guide, you are in charge...

Prep time: 30 Minutes (Plus around 8 hours/overnight+45 minutes to prove)
Baking time: 25 Minutes
For the dough
12g Fresh Yeast
1tbsp Caster Sugar
150ml Cold Water
50ml Milk
1 Egg Yolk (Beaten)
300g Very Strong White Bread Flour
1/2tsp Salt

For the topping
150-200g Fresh Blackberries
1tbsp Unsalted Butter (Melted)
2tbsp Chopped Blanched Hazelnuts
1tbsp Caster Sugar

Righty-ho, let's begin. Crumble the yeast into a mixing bowl, add the sugar and pour over the cold water. Mix around with a mini-whisk or fork until the yeast has begun to dissolve, then add the milk, egg yolk, flour and salt. Briefly mix until a loose dough begins to form, then tip out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for around 7 minutes, stretching the dough away from yourself, folding back, rotating by a quarter and repeating, until smooth and elastic. It will be quite sticky initially but try to avoid adding extra flour unless absolutely necessary. Return the dough to a large, clean bowl that has been lightly greased, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for around 8 hours, ideally overnight.

Remove the risen dough from the fridge, take it out of the bowl and shape into a flattish round. You can do this on a lightly greased surface, but I just do it in my hands! Place in a greased, medium sized baking or roasting tin, then with your fingers press the dough all over, nudging it gently towards the edges. It doesn't matter if the dough won't stretch all the way. With a sharp knife make a small incision in the top of the dough, stretch out a little with your fingers and pop a fresh blackberry into the pocket. Repeat until the dough is generously studded with berries. Place the tin in a large plastic food bag (you can pick these up inexpensively from the supermarket) and leave in a warm place (such as an airing cupboard) for around 45 minutes, until the dough has risen, enveloping the blackberries.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Remove the tin from the plastic bag, then brush the surface of the dough all over with the melted butter. Add the chopped hazelnuts to the dish the butter was melted in and toss to coat lightly. Scatter over the dough, then finally sprinkle over the caster sugar. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 25 minutes, until deep golden and the blackberries have just started to soften, releasing their juices. Your work is done.

1 comment:

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