Merry Christmas and a festive Stollen

I can hear the kookaburras calling outside my window and the Torres Strait pigeon in the mango tree as dusk settles here after a hot and humid Christmas eve. It’s not what many would consider typically Christmasy but to us it is.

Today I baked and prepared for our meal tomorrow. Part of it was this delicious stollen, another recipe from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent. Get this amazing cookbook before it is sold out to make all the wonderful recipes.

As my family and I are preparing to attend Christmas eve Mass at our local church, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the peace and joy of Christmas and the holidays.

Spiced Bread Rolls – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #53

What could smell better than baking bread?
Baking spiced bread.
This bread has the most amazing combination of exotic spices. Mahlab a spice made from the kernels within the seeds of  the St Lucie cherry.  I bought mine online at Gewurzhaus Herb and Spice Merchants. This is a wonderful store in Melbourne can not be passed by. The scent of spices drifts up and down the street luring customers in. I dare you to try to walk past and not be enticed into the store. Go in, it’s worth it!
 And so are these rolls. Not just any dinner rolls. These bread rolls are a traditional Syrian bread roll. Gorgeous and alluring just like Gewurzhaus Herb and Spice store!
Kleecha (adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent)
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons freshly ground mahlab seeds
1 1/4 cups warm water
115g salted butter
1/3 cup olive oil
5 cups bread flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons nigella seeds
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons anise seeds
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
In a small bowl mix the yeast, mahlab and 1/4 cup of the water. Allow to stand for 10 minutes in which time it will start to froth. While your waiting melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add in the oil. The mixture should be warm not hot. Check it with a thermometre, it should be 50C/120F. Remove the pan from the heat.
To prepare the dough I prefer a stand mixer but the dough can also be mix by hand. In a stand mixer bowl place flour, sugar, nigella, sesame and anise seeds and the cloves, nutmeg and salt. Add the yeast mixture, the butter mixture and the remaining cup of water. Using the dough hook, knead on a medium-low speed for 5 -8 minutes. Scrape down the sides if ingredients get stuck. The dough should be smooth but not sticky. Add more flour or water to get the correct consistency. 
Form the dough into a ball and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until tripled in size – about 2 hours.

Once risen, turn out the dough on a work surface. Pat the dough down and divide into 18 equal portions. Allow to rest for 10 minutes cover with a clean cloth.

Prepare a large baking sheet or two smaller pans by lining with baking paper. Roll each portion  20cm/8inch long rope then form into a knot.Brush with the egg wash and leave the rolls to rise for another 45 minutes.
In the meantime preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Bake risen rolls for about 20 minutes.

Delicious warm or a room temperature with a good dose of butter!
Any leftovers freeze beautifully.

Scandinavian Rye Bread – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #49

A few years ago I wandered into a large book store in Brisbane while on holidays. While my children were browsing, I made my way to the second floor which held a substantial selection of cookbooks. There I sat a little stool and surrounded myself with beautiful books. I knew our luggage would be heavy so I limited myself to choosing one book.
Little did I know that by choosing that book, on that day, would lead to Greg coming into my life and I now count Greg and his lovely wife Dorothy as dear friends.
On my return from holidays, I poured over that book. I wanted to make so many recipes. Rarely, if ever do that many recipes from one book interest me that much! So I decided to bake my way through the book. By chance, Greg happened upon my  blog and made contact. One thing led to another and this year Greg told me that he and Dorothy were making their first trip to Australia and  could we meet? So a couple of weeks ago my hubby and I spent a lovely weekend with Greg and Dorothy in the North Queensland city of Cairns.
How lucky am I?
Greg is a wealth of food knowledge and Dorothy is so incredibly accomplished in her field but they are two of the most humble and gentle people I have ever met. For me this was a small sliding door moment – buying a cookbook led to welcoming the author and his wife into my life. 
I don’t often post personal photos but this is an exception – Greg and myself in the beautiful tropical sunshine.

We talked and talked! We ate great food and wandered around together. We discussed Greg’s books. At one stage I turned to Greg and said, “Oooh, I have just made your Swedish Rye Bread! It’s delicious!” Greg gave me a funny look. Aaaah, sorry Greg, it was Limpa I was talking about! In my head I had renamed it Swedish Rye Bread. Do you ever do that?

This Limpa which is a Scandinavian Rye bread is adapted from the recipe in A Baker’s Odyssey. I have been baking bread for a long time and I would say without a doubt this is one of the most flavourful loaves I have made. Served warm out of the oven with lashings of butter it is irresistible but the next day it slices well and toasts beautifully. This bread will not disappoint!

Limpa ( adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent)
makes one small round loaf

200ml water
20mls molasses
20g butter
230g bread flour
75g dark rye flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
finely grated zest of 1/2 orange
1 teaspoon anise seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds

Heat the water, molasses and butter in a small pan over medium heat until the butter melts and the mixture registers around 50C. Remove from heat while you measure and prepare the remaining ingredients.
To make the dough I like to use a stand mixer but it can all be done by hand.
Combine the flours and yeast then stir in the salt, orange zest, anise seeds and caraway seeds. By this time your liquids should have cooled down a little. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon until a stiff dough is formed. Allow to rest about ten minutes. Then if using a stand mixer attach the dough hook and knead for 5-8 minutes. Alternatively knead by hand for 8 minutes. In either case you should end up with a smooth and elastic dough. It will be a little sticky but don’t add any more flour.
Form into a ball then place the dough into an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Lightly flour the work surface, turn out the dough and pat gently to remove the large air bubbles. Form the dough into a ball by cupping your hands around the dough and rotating it. Pinch the underside together to seal and form a ball.
Place on a baking tray which has been lined with nonstick paper and cover loosely with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Allow to rise for a further 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size.
In the meantime heat the oven to 230C. When the dough is ready and the oven is hot, take a spray bottle filled with water and spray the inside of the oven, close the door. Uncover the dough and place into the hot oven which you spray again with water. Shut the door immediately and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the bread is well browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Cool on a wire rack. Serve with lashings of butter!

Cheese and Bacon Twist Bread with Smoked Paprika

Bread is the staple of life, some say. I have always loved bread. Bread was always on the table in my childhood and  I loved it all. Crunchy Italian breadsticks. The Italian Vienna loaf with it’s thick crusty exterior and tender and open crumb. The Australian Tank loaf so named for it’s similarity to a corrugated iron water tank. Not to mention the delicious sweet breads such as homemade Finnish breads dotted with cardamom and fruit studded Hot Cross buns baked by our traditional local baker for Good Friday only.
To those of us of Italian heritage bread is special and treated with respect which I think stems from our Catholic faith. Ingrained in me is that bread should never be placed upside down as this brings bad luck. Italian bakers bless their bread dough by making the sign of the cross over it ensuring a good rise and bake. In the Italian home bread is never wasted. With leftover bread you can make breadcrumbs, toss it into a salad or broken into your soup.
The Daring Kitchen challenge for the month of May was hosted by Tandy of  Lavender and Lime who challenged us to make our own filled bread using ingredients we love the most. Tandy gave us a bread recipe but gave us free reign as long as the bread was shaped and twisted in her particular way. I flavoured the dough with smoked paprika and filled it with my homemade pizza sauce mix, smoked cheese and bacon.  And yes, it was a hit! Thanks Tandy!

Bacon and Cheese Twist Bread with Smoked Paprika

3/4 – 1 cup water
1 x 7g packet active dried yeast
450g bread flour
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
40 g sugar
1 egg

40 mls olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

Filling
tomato puree flavoured with fresh garlic, oregano and salt
diced bacon
smoked cheese, grated

Directions:
1.Activate the yeast in the water for 5 minutes first. Then place the flour, yeast and water mixture, smoked paprika, sugar, egg and oil into a stand mixer bowl
2. Use a dough hook and knead for 1 minute
3. Add the salt and knead for a further 5 minutes
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface
5. Knead gently and shape into a ball
6. Rub the bowl with a little bit of oil
7. Place the dough back into the bowl, seam side down
8. Cover and leave to prove until doubled in size
9. Lightly oil your hands and punch back the dough
10. Cover and prove for 1 hour
11. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface
12. Knock back and roll out into a rectangle

13. Spread the dough with tomato puree, sprinkle on bacon and cheese to your liking.

14. Roll up tightly, lengthwise
15. Trim off the edges ( I didn’t trim the edges, can’t stand waste!)
16. Cut in half, down the middle, but not going all the way to the bottom

17. Slightly open the two halves
18. Twist the dough to resemble a length of rope

19. Shape into a circle
20. Place onto a lined or sprayed baking tray
21. Cover dough with a damp cloth and leave to prove for 30 minutes
22. Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas Mark 5
23. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle on the poppy seeds

24. Bake for 10 minutes
25. Reduce the temperature to 175°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4
26. Bake for a further 45 minutes
27. Remove from the oven and leave on the tray for 15 minutes
28. Place onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely before cutting

Kouign amann

Isn’t it amazing the variety of recipes around the globe? Some are similar and some are very different. But each culture has their own unique way of preparing food. I particularly love that a baker can take baking basics such as flour, sugar, butter, eggs maybe a little yeast and create something which is totally their own.
This month in the Daring Kitchen we were challenged to prepare  kouign amann. Now this I had never heard of! According to our host,   Meredith. from The Poco Loco Olsons – “a kouign amann (prounounced “kwee-amahn”) is a round crusty pastry that originated in Brittany in roughly 1860. It is made with a bread dough that is laminated (think of a croissant or puff pastry) and then sprinkled with sugar before being cut into squares and baked in muffin tins”.
I decided mine could do with a square of chocolate in the middle. Yup, these are good. Very good!

Kouign amann

Servings: 12

Ingredients:

300g/10 1/2 oz / 2 2/5 cups strong plain flour, plus extra for dusting
5g / 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast OR 6.75g / 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
5g / 1 tsp salt
200ml / 6 3/4 fl oz / 4/5 cup warm water
25g / 1oz / 1 3/4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
250g / 9oz / 1 1/5 sticks / 1 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, in a block
100g / 3 1/2 oz / scant 1/2 cup caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

Directions:

1. Put the flour into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Add the water and melted butter and mix on a slow speed for two minutes, then on a medium speed for six minutes.
NOTE: If using active dry yeast, activate it in the water for 5 minutes first.

2. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Put into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for one hour.

3. Sandwich the butter between two sheets of grease-proof paper and bash with a rolling pin, then roll out to a 14 cm / 5½” square. Place in the fridge to keep chilled.

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 20cm / 8” square. Place the butter in the center of the dough diagonally, so that each side of butter faces a corner of the dough

 Fold the corners of the dough over the butter to enclose like an envelope.

5. Roll the dough into a 45 x 15cm / 18 x 6” rectangle. Fold the bottom third of dough up over the middle, then fold the top third of the dough over. You will now have a sandwich of three layers of butter and three layers of dough. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This completes one turn.

6. Repeat this process twice more, so you have completed a total of three turns, chilling the dough for 30 minutes between turns.

7. Roll the dough into a rectangle as before. Sprinkle the dough with the caster sugar and fold into thirds again. Working quickly, roll the dough into a large 40 x 30cm / 16 x 12” rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with additional caster sugar and cut the dough into 12 squares. I added a small block of chocolate in the middle of each.

8. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin well with oil. Gather the dough squares up by their four corners and place in the muffin tins, pulling the four corners towards the centre of the muffin tin, so that it gathers up like a four-leaf clover.

Sprinkle with additional caster sugar and leave to rise, covered with a clean tea towel, for 30 minutes until slightly puffed up.

9. Preheat oven to 220°C / 200°C (fan) / 425°F / Gas Mark 7. Bake the pastries for 30 – 40 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover with foil halfway through if beginning to brown too much. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Be careful not to burn yourself on the caramelized sugar, but don’t leave them to cool for too long, or the caramelised sugar will harden and they will be stuck in the tin.

10. Serve warm or cold.

Cardamom Coffee Rolls – A Baker’s Odyssey Personal Challenge #38

Growing up in a farming community that was quite multicultural one of my favourite foods was “Finish Bread” or “Coffee Buns”. I now know this was Pulla, a wonderfully fragrant Finish bread.  The Finns, like we Italians, had come to the area to make it “good” in the sugar cane industry. My mother swapped recipes with the Finn ladies so pizza became a staple in their homes and “Finnish Bread” in ours. I still have a great fondness for the beautiful spice cardamom and for the gentle Finnish people.

Today I continue my slow journey through A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent. I had baked these delicious buns quite some time ago and have just rediscovered them. So similar to the wonderful bread of my childhood with freshly ground cardamom the key to their beauty. Inside the green cardamom pods you will find brown seeds, crush them to release their fragrance.

I dedicate this post to the amazing Finish people and their families who brought joy into my life.


Cardamom Coffee Rolls

Sponge

1 c whole milk
1 1/2 c plain flour
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry or instant yeast

Dough

1/2 c sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1/2 stick (4 tbsp or 60g) butter, soft and room temperature
1 tsp ground cardamom (slightly more if you use pre-ground)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c plain flour

Topping

1/4 c slivered almonds, chopped
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp pearl sugar
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tsp water, for the egg wash

To begin make the sponge

Heat the milk to between 38C/120F to 55C/130F. Whisk together the flour and yeast then add the milk and whisk until smooth and thick. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let is rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubles…

… and is bubbly like this.

Scrape the sponge into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar egg, egg yolk, butter, cardamom and salt. Using a flat beater beat on low for a minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes until the dough gathers around the beater and pulls away from the sides. Remove the flat beater and attach the dough hook. Add in the flour and knead on a low speed, scraping the sides if needed. Increase the speed and knead for 5 minutes. It should be soft and elastic.

Sprinkle the dough with a spoonful of flour, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled about 1 1/2 hours.

Scrape the risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Flip the dough over so both surfaces are coated with flour. Divide the dough into 15 portions. Cover loosely with a cloth and allow to rest for 10 minutes. In the meantime butter a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Now shape each portion into a ball and arrange in the buttered tray. Allow to rise for 1 hour covered with a cloth.

Heat the oven to 190C/375F. Make the topping by combining all the ingredients.

When the rolls have risen brush with egg wash and sprinkle with topping. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until well risen and browned.

These are delicious warm!

Jamie Oliver’s Tear “N” Share Garlic Bread

 This Sunday in Australia we celebrate Father’s Day. Though my dad is no longer with us I celebrate this day for the fathers in my life – my husband and my dear father-in-law, and in memory of my own father. For me it is a day to show our Dads that they are appreciated and loved. Yummy comfort food helps, I think. And what can be more comforting than bread and butter.
This tear and share garlic bread is perfect….soft white bread, fragrant garlic and oodles of butter!
What are we waiting for?
Happy Father’s Day.

Tear “N” Share Garlic Bread 

adapted from “Jamie’s Comfort Food” by Jamie Oliver
800g bread flour
1 x 7g dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
550ml warm water
100g stale breadcrumbs
Butter
6 large cloves garlic, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
125g butter, at room temp (see note)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Note: My preference is for salted butter but Jamie uses unsalted, I will leave that up to you
I make the dough in my stand mixer with the dough hook but you could easily make it by hand. In the bowl of the stand mixer place the flour, yeast and salt. Add the warm water and knead in the stand mixer on low until well combined. Increase speed a little and continue to knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to stand in a warm place until the dough is doubled – about 1 hour. 
In the meantime make your butter. I like to crush the garlic with my mini mortar and pestle with a little bit of salt but you can just use a garlic crusher if you prefer. Mix the garlic with the butter, as much parsley as you want (I like more than Jamie recommended), lemon rind and cayenne pepper.  
Take a large baking tray – mine measured about 25cm x 35 cm – and spread about 1/3 of the butter all over the base and sides, sprinkle with breadcrumbs making sure they get all the way up the sides.
Divide your risen dough into 35 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and arrange in the baking tray. 

Spread the dough with another 1/3 of the butter then allow the dough to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until almost doubled in size.While you are waiting preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
When ready bake for 30 minutes or until well risen, golden and cooked through.

Hit the buns with the last 1/3 of butter!
Spread the butter well over the hot buns..
…then serve and enjoy!

Seed and Nut Loaf with Dates and Dried Cranberries – Daring Bakers’ Challenge August 2015

 For the August challenge Susan from The Kiwi Cook dared us to make Seed & Nut Loaf – a super-healthy and gluten-free alternative to standard wheat-based bread.

Gluten free? The word alone brings to my mind strange food and loss. Loss of enjoying a crusty baguette, or a flaky croissant or simply white bread with butter and Vegemite. Loss of traditional pasta dishes so important in my life. Loss of cakes, biscuits and baking I know and love so well. This month we were challenged to bake a gluten free seed and nut loaf by Susan of The Kiwi Cook. Strangely this month my daughter was having tests to check if she was gluten intolerant. While she was waiting for the results I pondered about my future baking should the test come back positive. Anyone who knows me knows my love of baking and of breads. And my family are pivotal in my baking choices. I bake for them. It is part of who I am and what I can give to the ones I love.

So to step into the world of gluten free seems so limiting. It is with this thought that I plunged into the recipe. Could I make it work? Could I love it? Gluten free and all?

The answer is a resounding yes!

This gluten free loaf is bound together not with eggs but with psyllium seed husks which soak up the liquid and act as a binding ingredient. The original recipe was probably more savoury than my version because I wanted to bring in the natural sweetness of dates and orange juice and the bite of cranberries.

During the month I also made an delicious Apricot, Apple and Coconut version, substituting the dates, cranberries and cinnamon for 1/2 cup chopped dried apricot, 1/2 cup chopped dried apple and 1/2 cup desiccated coconut. I used water instead of orange juice but I think coconut milk would be nice. This photo shows the loaf untoasted but toasting definitely adds the finishing touch.

So if you’re game, bake this, slice it, toast it and drizzle it with honey…I think you will be pleasantly surprised! Thanks to our host, Susan and my Daring Bakers friends.

GLUTEN-FREE SEED & NUT LOAF with Dates and Dried Cranberries

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

1 cup (250 ml) (140 gm) ( 5 oz) sunflower seeds
½ cup (125 ml) (90 gm) (3 oz) flax seeds (linseeds)
½ cup (125 ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz) sliced almonds (or nuts you prefer, I used almonds and macadamias)
1-½ cups (375 ml) (135 gm) (4¾ oz) gluten-free rolled oats
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (20 gm) (¾ oz) sesame seeds
4 tablespoons (60 ml) (25 gm) (1 oz) psyllium seed husks (3 tablespoons if using psyllium husk powder)
1/2 cup chopped dried dates
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) fine grain sea salt (it’s fine to reduce this if you prefer)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey, I definitely added more!
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons (45 ml) butter, melted
1-½ cups (375 ml) orange juice, freshly squeezed

Method:

In a standard sized silicone, non-stick, or greased and lined loaf pan, combine all the dry ingredients (I find it’s easier and less messy to combine in a large bowl first).

Whisk honey, butter and juice together in a separate bowl.

Add mixture to the dry ingredients and combine until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick (while the mixture will be wet, there should be no excess liquid).

Transfer the mixture to the loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours or overnight. The mixture should feel very firm to the touch.
Preheat oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/ gas mark 4. Then bake bread initially for 20 minutes.

Take the loaf out of the oven, place a wire rack over top and invert to remove the bread (if you’ve lined the loaf tin, you should remove the lining at this point).

Put the now inverted loaf on its wire rack into the oven again and bake for another 30-40 minutes (it should sound hollow when tapped). The loaf should be starting to brown on the outside – this gives a lovely nutty crunch to the finished loaf.
Let the loaf cool completely before slicing.

STORAGE & FREEZING INSTRUCTIONS:

You can store the loaf in an airtight container (or wrap it in plastic wrap) for up to 5 days. You can also freeze it for at least 3 months (it helps to slice it first before freezing so you can enjoy that occasional piece of toast!).

Focaccia: April 2015 daring bakers’ challenge


For the month of April Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to
 Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch


It’s always a thrill when the beginning of the month arrives and a new Daring Bakers Challenge is announced. I have been a Daring Baker now for almost 6 years! Yes, I can’t believe it either! How time flies and I still am excited to discover each new challenge. When it is yeast cookery…even better still. So this month when our hosts Rachael of Pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise challenged us to make focaccia I was in my element. My plan was to make it many times using different recipes however times does fly and the month got away from me. I made two simple varieties…one with garlic and rosemary and another with sun dried tomatoes and black olives. 
Thank you Rachael and Sawsan!
Focaccia Two Ways – my own recipe
3 teaspoons dried yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon malt syrup or honey
385g plain flour
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
for Garlic and Rosemary Foccacia
2 or 3 cloves garlic, sliced and mixed with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sprigs of rosemary rubbed with a bit of extra virgin olive oil
sea salt flakes
for Black Olive and Sundried Tomato Foccacia
8 to 10 black olives, deseeded and cut in half
couple of spoonfuls of sliced sundried tomatoes
sea salt flakes
In the bowl of a stand mixer dissolve yeast with water and stand for a few minutes until bubbling slightly, add flour, oil, malt syrup and pepper. With the dough hook attached knead for 5 minutes, then add the salt. Knead again until the dough is smooth and elastic. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for about an hour or until at least doubled.

In the meantime prepare your toppings if you have not already.

When the dough is ready divide in half. Press out each half then fold it back up by bringing into the middle sides and the top and bottom. Press out and place onto a well oiled pizza tray. Push the toppings into the dough and sprinkle generously with the oil from the tomatoes and the oil from the garlic.

Sprinkly both with sea salt flakes. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.

In the meantime preheat the oven at 200C then bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned and looking delicious.

Serve warm and enjoy!

Grissini Torinesi – Breadsticks from Turin

One of my greatest loves in baking with yeast. I remember only being about 12 years old and buying a packet of dried yeast to make my first loaf of bread. It wasn’t the best bread I had tasted but it lit a fire in my “baking belly” for yeast cookery. The idea that with a few simple ingredients we can create a wide variety of baked goods. My fascination with yeast has never waned and I have many cookbooks on the subject. One of my favorites is “The Italian Baker” by the award winning writer Carol Field.

These knobbly breadsticks are a perfect example of the wonderful recipes contained within this cookbook. They are crunchy, wholesome, and it’s hard to stop reaching for another. The recipe is simple. Why don’t you try it?

Grissini Torinesi  from The Italian Baker by Carol Field

1 1/4 teaspoon dried yeast
1 tablespoon malt syrup
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for brushing
3 3/4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup semolina flour

I prepare mine in the stand mixer but it could all be done by hand.

Mix the yeast, malt and warm water together in your stand mixer bowl. Allow to stand 10 minutes or so until bubbly. Add the oil, flour and salt and start mixing slowly with the dough hook until it all comes together. Continue to knead with the dough hook for about 3 minutes. Remove dough and knead a little by hand to bring it together.
Place the dough back in the bowl and rub the surface with a little oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled. That could be an hour or more.
Preheat your oven to 225C/ 450F
To shape – sprinkle the dough with semolina flour. Cut the dough crosswise into 4 equal pieces then cut each into 5 strips. You should have 20 strips. The dough is lovely and elastic so pick up each strip and stretch and pull until you have nice long breadsticks. Roll in more semolina if you like. Place each one onto a baking sheet (there should be no need to grease because the semolina will stop the sticking). Bake for 20/25 minutes until nice and crunchy. If you have a pizza stone the breadsticks can be baked directly on the heated stone.