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artisan_breads_oil_spill_bp BP’s  Forever Lasting Legacy

We’ve all seen the horrendous scenes  in the Gulf of Mexico. Deep off shore drilling is just a by product of the world’s reliance on fossil fuels. In a corporate world  it can often seem impossible that the “small people” (according to BP) can make a difference. The advantage of the “small people” is the fact that there is an awful lot more of them than there are politicians and greedy oil barons.

This is all very well but where does bread come into it?

Behind the worlds reliance on fossil fuels in general, and oil in particular, is the massive consumption and consumerism that underpins the perpetual production of ‘stuff’. This ‘stuff’ is at best utterly useless and at worst actually harmful to us, and the environment in which we all live.

Home baking of bread removes the demand for cheap, mass produced bread. Along with this is, there would be no need for all the plastic it’s wrapped in, the trucks and airplanes that transport it, you get the point.

Ah but what about the increase in the demand for flour?

Domestic agriculture worldwide is suffering because of the world over reliance on globalization, meaning that people in the US and Europe strip the poorer countries of their best food and produce whilst strangling their own farmers in the process.  Another side effect of this is  that the poorer countries aren’t able to build up any grain to feed their populations as it all get sold to the west.

If people took up baking (making sure they bought domestic flour) domestic farming would grow and the money would stay in that country. This would be beneficial for both developed and developing nations. Of course some countries would not be able to grow their own flour, so some form of transporting of flour maybe necessary.

All of this just by baking Artisan bread?

Well… the point here is the mindset, for too long have the many enriched the few. If each and everyone of us took a few minutes a day to bake a fresh loaf, imagine the difference we could all start to make.

So Mr and Miss “small” person, want to make a change?

Here is a recipe for a basic Focaccia! Apologies for taking this from my Focaccia page, but I wanted to get this post up quickly.

Focaccia Ingredients

  • approx 750g strong white flour
  • between 300-400ml of warm water
  • teaspoon of dried, fast action yeast
  • approx teaspoon of salt

What To Do

  • Add the dry ingredients (flour, yeast, salt) together and mix
  • form a well, add water gradually, mix in
  • should have wet, sticky, stretchy dough
  • cover and leave to double in size
  • pour onto floured surface
  • cover all of dough surface in flour
  • transfer to tray with on stick mat on it(easier than it sounds!)
  • continuously dip fingers in a bowl of water to shape the bread (avoids sticky fingers)
  • put dimples in bread
  • add rosemary, salt and olive oil on top
  • put into oven preheated to 220-230 degrees C
  • after 5 mins turn down to 190
  • after 15-20 mins take out and leave to cool

I hope you liked this article, please give the idea a try you never know where it might lead! If you get stuck please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. Confused about artisan breads? Have a look at my Artisan breads page.  Good Luck and Good Baking!

Focaccia: It’s History and a Good Recipe

by admin on June 14, 2010

History of Focaccia

The history of Focaccia is tied in with the history of the Mediterranean and of Europe. Focaccia gets it’s name from the Roman “Panis Focacius” which means bread cooked upon a hearth or under the ashes of a fire 1. Focaccia is thought to develop from Panis Focacius, although the basics of the recipe may, or may not come  from the ancient Greeks or the Etruscans2. Either way it’s origins lie in the Mediterranean.  The original recipes for Focaccia were naturally unleavened, which may strengthen the argument for the bread having it’s origins in this area, as  it has the right climate for the bread to ‘naturally’ rise3

In general flat breads were developed in regions where wood burning cooking was prevalent, their purpose was to help take the heat out of the oven before cooking the main meal. Perhaps this is why the bread is now served with the main meal and is traditionally cooked before the meal itself.

Focaccia and Christianity

The earliest recipes found for this bread come from Roman times, where they added a little yeast to make the bread rise depending  how much the climate made the bread rise3. The breads Roman origins, it’s progression and adaptation through out the Mediterranean (particularly Italy and Spain) perhaps suggest why this bread is/was widely used in Roman Catholic ceremonies.

There is some debate as to whether the bread used in the Eucharist can be called an unleavened version of Focaccia. My personal opinion is that the bread used is a  flat bread and in itself cannot be called a Focaccia. The Orthodox Church  does use a leavened bread in it’s ceremonies, which is very similar to Focaccia4.

Evolution of Focaccia

As time went by the bread evolved, more yeast was added etc, until in the middle ages something emerged that we would now recognize as Focaccia. Along the way many regional variances developed. Examples of these are the Hogaza in Spain and the Fougasse in France5. In the United States Focaccia arguably comes from Italian immigrants to the country. For this reason  Focaccia recipes in the United States and in Europe are practically the same, using garlic and/or rosemary on the top with olive oil spread over it to stop it from drying out.

Focaccia Recipe

Focaccia is usually a simple recipe with little variance in the  ingredients, the debate is around how wet to make the dough. Here is a recipe for a fairly wet dough Focaccia, about the size of an oven baking tray. It is important that you use a strong flour in this recipe as you need a high gluten content.

Focaccia Ingredients

  • approx 750g strong white flour
  • between 300-400ml of warm water
  • teaspoon of dried, fast action yeast
  • approx teaspoon of salt

What To Do

  • Add the dry ingredients (flour, yeast, salt) together and mix
  • form a well, add water gradually, mix in
  • should have wet, sticky, stretchy dough
  • cover and leave to double in size
  • pour onto floured surface
  • cover all of dough surface in flour
  • transfer to tray with on stick mat on it(easier than it sounds!)
  • continuously dip fingers in a bowl of water to shape the bread (avoids sticky fingers)
  • put dimples in bread
  • add rosemary, salt and olive oil on top
  • put into oven preheated to 220-230 degrees C
  • after 5 mins turn down to 190
  • after 15-20 mins take out and leave to cool

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article, more to follow (videos as well!). Have fun making delicious artisan breads. If you like this have a look at Sourdough Good Luck and Good Baking!

References and Links
1. http://www.bread-maker.net/Bread-Types/Focaccia-Bread.htm

2. http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/focaccia

3. http://historyofthings.com/history-of-focaccia-bread

4. http://www.answers.com/topic/bread

5. http://www.abigailsbakery.com/bread-recipes/history-of-focaccia-bread

More Sourdough Information…By An Idiot

June 8, 2010

So we’ve talked about sourdough what it is and how you make it (and you), that not enough for ya? This article contains more advanced stuff to do with all things sourdough. You never know you may even impress this little lady with your baking.
She’s Hungry for Your Sourdough! Grrr…
Sourdough Has Natural Yeasts that [...]

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An Idiots Introduction to Sour Dough’s by an Idiot

June 8, 2010

You’ve spent hours (or minutes) searching the internet trying to find a good sour dough to impress the girls (or more realistically your mates) and your now more confused than ever, correct? I guess not… but anyway, what is a Sour Dough? and how do you make a ‘good’ one?
First things first….the ‘Starter’
Get Your [...]

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5 Things Every Artisan Baker Should Know About Flour Strength

May 28, 2010

It goes with out saying that the flour you use in your bread is very important, and the flours you can use vary massively. So where to begin? Well, these 5 things will have you well on the way! to baking amazing Artisan Breads
1. What makes a flour strong
Check Out My Gluten Baby….Grrrr
A flours [...]

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7 Ways Artisan Bread Can Save the World

May 27, 2010

1. Make Bread Not War

Make bread not war! If everyone spent their time making Artisan bread then there would be no war, people would be too busy swapping tips and tricks about how to get their sourdoughs just right! For those that doubt me I ask you to look up an artisan recipe [...]

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10 Artistic Creations Made From Bread

May 27, 2010

The following 10 works of art are all created using boring old bread!

1. Bread Heads!

                                                        Yes, that’s right heads made form bread!
How Artisan is this! Believe it or not these human heads you see are actually made from bread. A baker in Thailand came up with the idea, and [...]

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What Makes Artisan Bread?

May 26, 2010

We’re all used to those supermarket loaves that say they are Artisan but then the bread tastes of the usual claggy nothingness you have come to expect, this begs the question what actually makes bread Artisan?
This question is harder to answer then it sounds, there are no rules when it comes to Artisan breads, no [...]

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