The Best Rosemary Focaccia

The Best Rosemary Focaccia

I have been planning to bake some Rosemary Focaccia for about 2 years now. Since the day my friend and housemate Phoebe came home from a long day of chef training at Leiths School of Food and Wine with the most delicious salty loaf of focaccia bread I have wanted to make an attempt at my own. That first slice was amazing and then when she told me that she didn’t want to eat any of it and I could enjoy the whole loaf… well I was in bread heaven. It lasted a day, maybe two at most.

Recently I achieved the dream of owning a KitchenAid mixer and seeing as I have had the ingredients in my cupboard, waiting to be used pretty much since that day Phoebe came home, I thought it was about time I used the dough hook on the mixer and see if I could recreate that scrummy focaccia. The recipe I used was from Leiths How To Cook book and can also be found on their blog here. I really couldn’t find much fault with it. I did make a couple of adaptations that are not mentioned in the recipe, but were on advise from Phoebe (so useful knowing a good chef!) however she had given me this advice two years ago!

The recipe is pretty simple to follow with clearly defined steps and was pretty quick even with an hour to prove the dough. The recipe says to use 10g of fresh yeast. I couldn’t find this, so went for fast action yeast. I added this to the flour instead of dissolving in warm water and sifted both into the bowl. The recipe doesn’t say to sift the flour, but on habit I did, as this is something I always do when baking, unless it says otherwise. For me it makes my bakes a little more airy. I also didn’t hand knead the dough, instead I used the mixer with the dough hook. This really took the hard work out of the kneading. I did miss the physical kneading process, but am glad that I didn’t have to clean up quite as much afterwards, especially with the wetter dough of a focaccia.

After waiting the hour for the dough to prove and the 20-minute baking time, all the while the flat temptingly smelling of rosemary, I was able to sample my first batch of focaccia. I was not disappointed. Personally, I felt that it was ever so slightly too salty and when I next use this recipe I would reduce the amount of sea salt that I sprinkle on top of the loaf before baking. My chef on the end of the phone said that if I reduced the salt that was within the dough, most of the flavour would disappear and the yeast needs it, so best to reduce the salt that is on top of the loaf.

Other than that it was delicious and have already made my way through a fair amount of the loaf. It is yummy simply with a bit of butter, or you could add some Italian salami to make a little sandwich to take to work with you. My favourite bit was turning over the loaf and seeing the hidden green indented pattern that a sprig of rosemary had left underneath during baking. When I sent a pic over to Phoebe the feedback was it has “even air bubbles all the way through which shows it has been proved correctly – 5/5.” Sounds good to me!

I am really pleased with my first foray into baking bread other than traditional Kosher challah – I have a great recipe for that to share at a later date!
My friend Phoebe Saffron Findley is co-hosting a supper club in Leeds on Monday 23rd January 2017 in support of #CookForSyria and it is looking to be an amazing night of Syrian inspired food (wonderfully cooked by her of course), all in aid of a fantastic cause. If you are in Leeds and free, then book yourself a ticket here and there is more information about the event on their facebook page.


Brentford Picture Book

Brentford Picture Book

I’m a proud North Londoner through and through. I love wandering around Hampstead, stopping for a crepe and taking a slow stroll around the Heath, going for a coffee and catch up with friends in Muswell Hill or Highgate and enjoying the all important food and drink in Islington. Very occasionally you may have even caught a rare sighting of me walking a dog in the leafy Hertfordshire lanes where my parents live. I always imagined that I would make my own home in one of these areas where I felt so comfortable. Don’t get me wrong… I am very aware of the cost of living there, but a girl could dream and she could always find a flat share in a lovely house.

Flash-forward to today and here I am sitting in my West London, Brentford Lock flat, learning what it means to be married and sharing my life with someone. All the while getting used to a totally new part of London place and finding that I am beginning to fall in love with it. Brentford is located right where the River Thames and River Brent meet and is an ‘up and coming’ young professional town. Its close location to several large companies makes it a great location for the professionals that work there. As with most of West London, its tube and train links to central London are slow, however the introduction of the new Crossrail Elizabeth Line promises to greatly improve this.

I love living so close to water. I don’t know what it is, but if I am near water I feel relaxed and often more inspired to get out of the house to find some inspiration. I have always loved spending time close to the River Thames and to live right by it is quite lovely. My South Londoner husband is quite happy living here… and for the moment I am too. But I do wonder how long I can stay under the spell of ‘The River’. For now I am delighting in the fact that actually our flat is on the north side of the river, so my south of the river headaches remain hidden enough for me to enjoy Brentford and its river position.

Here I am sharing a bit of a picture album post of a reasonably recent sunny day walk around Brentford. Something I loved during this walk is the mixture of weathered industrial remnants versus the more homely narrow boat culture with the beautiful moored boats in the area. I hope you enjoy my amateur photography… rest assured, one of my 2017 goals is to improve my photography, so watch this space and follow my instagram account @laurendloves to follow my progress and my attempt to complete the #makelight365 challenge.