Bread, Savoury

Baking rosemary bread rolls in Italy

I love Italy, I love the food, people and atmosphere, I feel very at home there which is good as this year will probably be my 28th time I’ve been there to the same place in Italy for holiday. A few years ago my dad inherited a family house, a very old house which is stuck in the 1950s with no boiler or hot water. We cook on a gas stove but I think it’s great.

This year I decided that I wanted to make the bread for our lunch times (as the crusty dry loaves we eat every day hurt my teeth). I bought the yeast with me from the UK but everything else I got when I was there.

I made 3 different types of bread with varying degrees of success, though I was pleased with any success since I had no scales to measure my ingredients with!*

The recipe and pictures today are from my bread rolls. They are so very simple but I managed to get them to work and we ate them all up very fast.

*How I measured the flour without scales was to buy 1kg bags of flour and guess that it’s half of it. Simples.

Rosemary bread rolls

  • 500g bread flour
  • 2 tsp dry fast acting yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 300ml water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Chopped up rosemary (or you could substitute for any dry herb, I used fresh rosemary)

In a bowl add all of your dry ingredients, except the rosemary,making sure that the salt is on the otherside to your yeast.

Make a well in the middle and pour most of the water and the oil into the centre.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture till it starts to come together then add in the last bit of water and mix.

Tip onto a clean work surface and start to knead the bread. At first it will be very sticky and you’ll want to add extra flour…don’t! Trust me, it will start to come together into a dough.

Keep kneading till it looks like dough and doesn’t stick to everything like glue. This will take at least 10 mins by hand.

Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave till the dough has risen well (in Italy this was about an hour as it was so hot, in UK temperatures it’s probably closer to 2 hours)

Once risen put back onto the work surface and ‘knock back’ which is to knead the dough a bit more. Now add your herbs at this point.

Cut the dough into 8 pieces and roll into ball shapes. Put them close but not touching on your baking tray. I’d line a baking tray with non-stick paper and flour generously. Cover very loosely.

Heat the oven to 220c and let the dough rise for another hour.

Bake for 15 minutes until lovely, golden and happy to see you.

Bread, Savoury

Foccacia – a bread anyone can make, even me!

I admit that I am not the best at making bread.

My first foray into bread making came when the new issue of Good Food magazine arrived before Christmas 2010. Inside was the recipe to make Panettone – the Christmas sweet cake/bread which is supposed to be light and fluffy like air. Unfortunately I didn’t understand the importance of kneading bread so I think I skipped a kneading and rising time and just hoped for the best.

The good thing about it was the taste, it was lovely and tasted just like a Panettone should do, however, the bad thing was that it weighed about as much as I do! It was so dense and heavy that my family still remember my failed attempt and laugh when we get one at Christmas.

For a while I was a bit scared to even touch a dough or try making bread of any sort, but this changed when I watched the last series of the Great British Bake off.
After getting the cookbook as a present I have made iced fingers, white loaves, bread rolls and bread plaits.
Still, every time I still feel completely amazed that it worked.

I have never tried to make speciality bread but this time I felt brave, I was going to make a foccacia!

Luckily I used a very easy and simple recipe from Lorraine Pascal and it came out perfect. I am sure that it is not a traditional Italian recipe but the end results are so close that you needn’t worry. It is definitely worth having a go, especially since it only needs one set of kneading and looks and tastes very good.  I also use my very best olive oil in this recipe, imported from Italy – the taste is just non-comparable.

All you need is a bit of Italian sunshine, some salami, bread and a glass of wine.  Buon appetito.

Lorraine Pascal’s Foccacia