Focaccia Pizza

Funny how sometimes it’s your own laziness which can lead you in an interesting direction.
I knocked up some ‘biga’ last night in preparation for making individual pizzas today, for tonight’s evening meal. When it came to mixing the final dough, although I had (I thought) carefully aimed for 65% hydration – which should mean a floppy, but not too wet dough – it appeared to have other ideas, almost a mind of its own, at least in terms of how loose it was going to be.

“Errrr… dough this wet is going to be a handful to make into individual pizzas” was more or less the thought going through my head.

“Ok, let’s do tray-bake pizza” was the obvious answer. But not with all the sauce and toppings dumped uncerimoniously onto uncooked dough – let’s par-bake the dough, a bit like focaccia, first, then top it and continue baking.

Thus it came to pass. Focaccia pizza was created, and it was good. Oh yes, I am even now trying to think of an excuse why we have to have it again next weekend (and I’m not even in the country next weekend!), that’s how nice it was.
For your viewing pleasure, I present a run-down of the steps involved in assembling your focaccia pizza. Start with a well-proved wet dough (you could go up to about 75% hydration I reckon, and it should work fine).


This goes into a pre-heated oven as hot as you can get it (I use the non-fan setting, to try and reduce drying-out of the surface, plus it goes hotter than the fan setting):


After maybe 7 mins, take the par-baked base out, which has already expanded and puffed up nicely:


Tomato sauce is going to be first onto the base, here’s one we made earlier:


Followed by toppings:


Put it all together (cheese going on last) and whaddya got:


8 more minutes back in the hot oven and she’s done:


Cut up, and devour.

Finally, just a word from our sponsors (who contributed to a small degree to making the sauce):


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Whitstock Baking

Bakery back in business!
This is my output for today, in time for Whitstock next week. “What is that?” I hear you ask. Some old friends living in Somerset are having a serious house party next weekend, and when I heard that they were going the ‘whole hog’ (yes, in fact they’ve got a Hog Roast organised, see what I did there ūüėČ ) I offered to make some sourdough.

Rolls were agreed, and given that there are going to be somewhere over 60 mouths to feed, I decided to knock up 72 individual rolls – that number is no accident, it means 3 batches of 24 rolls, 12 per tray, 2 trays in the oven at one go, 3 overall bakes.
It also means 11kg of my old friend Mick’s Pain de Campagne recipe! Ok, so I added 1 kg of dough to the calculation so as to create 1 loaf for us for the weekend, but the rest has all ended up as the rolls you see in the picture here.

22 minutes at 220C fan-assisted and you’re done. They will be frozen for the week and ready for next Saturday ūüôā

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Craft baker in Portland Oregon

An Artisan Baker from Mark Magee/Watermark Studio on Vimeo.

Interesting viewpoint from the baker and personally interesting to see how dark the crusts are on his loaves! ¬†Hard to imagine many people taking to something looking like that, isn’t it?

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Bethesdabakin at Mairs Bakehouse 2014 – a taster

Posting a quick blog entry at work means it can only be brief, therefore you’ll need to wait a bit longer for me to have the time to do justice to what was a great weekend baking in a great oven, with great people.

Still, mustn’t grumble, even managed to keep a bit of what I baked from getting eaten over the weekend and actually bring some of it home. Below is a selection from the range of items baked, left to right: Miches (stacked), Guinness Vollkornbrot (the little rectangular loaves), Seeded Spelt sourdough (sat underneath the baguette), baguette a l’ancienne and finally Wheat Beer and Onion bread (the 3 remaining round loaves)

ProduceThe chocolate swirls with butterscotch sauce aren’t shown in this picture, simply because they didn’t make it home, funnily enough.


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Bethesda Bakin at Mairs – 2014

Not long now, til the annual baking event known as ‘Bethesda Bakin’! ¬†An eclectic, charming group of people, mostly scatty about bread and baking, getting together to create baked delicacies, this year at the wonderful Rick and Maggie’s in West Wales.

More info here:

Expertise or years with your hands immersed in dough are not pre-requisites for joining in, just a desire to learn and bake. ¬†Rick and Maggie’s place features a huge Wood-Fired Oven, which we will have the honour of using for the weekend, that is simply a league above what most of have sitting in our domestic kitchens.

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Chocolate Swirls with Rum Butterscotch

Chocolate Swirls with Rum Butterscotch

Chocolate Swirls with Rum Butterscotch

Here’s something I have been meaning to make for a short while – sourdough chocolate swirls with raisins and rum butterscotch sauce.

Don’t be led astray by the word ‘sourdough’, these are sweet, rich, chocolatey and gorgeous – if I do say so myself. ¬†The rum butterscotch sauce complements the cocoa in the dough I believe, with the raisins adding their own fruity, sweet kick as well.

Idea came from thinking about some sourdough cinnamon swirls I made previously, which were also a slow-fermented, enriched, sweet dough that usually come out pretty good.  The dough for these chocolate swirls is based closely on that dough, with a few changes of course.  The butterscotch is not part of the cinnamon swirl recipe either, and I also felt that a dash of rum would work well with that butterscotch taste.

The (almost) full batch looks like this:

Chocolate swirls batch

Chocolate swirls batch

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Guess what this means..?

dark wheat beer

dark wheat beer

Huzzah! ¬†Managed to ‘smuggle’ (legitimately, mind) some dark wheat beer back into the country, simply by packing into my bag and checking it (rather than carrying onboard as I usually would). ¬†I got it to have another go at my wheat beer and onion bread, and usually it’d not only be a struggle to get Dark Wheat beer, it would cost about ¬£2 a bottle over here.

In Deutschland, I picked up a couple of bottles for the equivalent of about £1.80.

Less than half what we pay in the UK…

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More Effenberger

Grabbing a quick few samples of wholegrain spelt goodness from the Effenberger Bakery All-Spelt bakery under the railway arches at Dammtor in Hamburg, I snapped a couple of shots of what the punter sees when they pop in.

Spelt bakery in action

Spelt bakery in action

Effenberger Ovens

Effenberger Ovens

Great seeing a working bakery on full display like this, not hidden away from view. Bet those ovens are a bit fabulous too (and fabulously expensive…)

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Effenberger Organic Spelt

I popped into the Vollkorn Baeckerei of Thomas Effenberger tonight, in Hamburg (as you do) to see what they had on offer, being a nosey sort I guess.

And found some choice produce which I have to say seems pretty impressive, and certainly worthy of the apparent high regard with which the baker is held in these parts. Regard the following:

Spelt Baguette, Osterzopf and Mueslibrot

Spelt Baguette, Osterzopf and Mueslibrot

Furthest left is the Muesli bread, containing raisins, nuts and seeds, which is yummy.  Front is the Osterzopf (Easter loaf, I guess) which is also delish, containing dried apricots and a whack of zesty lemon, along with a honey sweetness. That leaves a baguette at the back, which looks like a wholemeal creation, yet tastes unlike wholemeal.

All are organic, sourdough, full grain spelt doughs Рseriously, I am not kidding.  Forget any notions of unpleasant, gummy, left-field bread, this is genuinely nice, whilst being genuinely healthy too.

I am impressed.

Contrast that with the white pappy roll I had on the way to work this morning, with some boiled egg in the middle, masquerading as a seeded roll because it had some flakes of something on the top.

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North Wales Bread-Weekender

The weekend just gone saw myself and herself meeting up with some old (and some new) friends and fellow breadheads, at a lovely B&B in the fair town of Caernarfon – actually I’ll gladly stand corrected if referring to it as a town is wrong, since it has “city” walls and a castle.

Arriving late Friday night it wasn’t really until Saturday morning that we all got to meet each other and started messing around with flour. ¬†Our kitchen was Gert’s (the B&B proprietor) dining room, which we used along with his actual kitchen to knock up various loaves, rolls, patisserie, you name it. ¬†Perhaps a few images will help in sharing what went on and got knocked up over the course of Saturday…

Joe's Raspberry Cream Egg Surprises

Joe’s Raspberry Cream Egg Surprises

Pain au raisin

Pain au raisin

An array of breadery

An array of breadery

The Baking Consultant

The Baking Consultant

I had decided somewhat rashly a short time before the weekend to make the following:

Wheat Beer and Cheese sourdough – a variation on a theme, namely a sourdough wheat beer and onion recipe which had worked well before. Wasn’t as happy with this cheesy version, as to my tastebuds it masked the beer flavour too much. Chalk that one down to experience I reckon.

Dark Cherry and Apple sourdough – using apple chunks sauteed in butter, with halved whole black cherries, this was a wonderfully moist loaf, though nothing like as much flavour of cherry came through, as sadly seems to often happen with fruit in bread – answer is to use cherry essence possibly, leave out the actual cherry fruit, which should help with the flavour as well as the loaf’s crumb and aeration.

Sourdough spelt and raisin bun – an attempt to emulate something I’ve had from the Effenberger bakery in Hamburg. Nice enough warm, though a bit pale in colour, and a thousand times better with some cold butter when eating ūüôā

Lardy cake – used coconut oil instead of lard, which is fine taste wise, as it really doesn’t dominate as you might think, but its smoking point is too low to bake with and as it leaks out of the dough, you really should use a tray with sides – which I didn’t, resulting in a smoke-filled kitchen and tears in the eyes of my fellow bakers! ¬†Oops…


Anyway, the main annual event at Rick’s in May should see the whole group of us merrily baking away, I’m looking forward to it!

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