April Daring Baker’s Challenge: Foccacia

IMG_1894“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”

So foccacia…. damn, more yeast. Not my favourite stuff in the world as I’m always scared it’s not going to workout alright; cakes are so much more reliable. However, they say practice makes perfect and what better way to practice than with a foccacia dough. It’s simple, versatile and makes a lovely addition to a lunch table, like mine did. In the future I’d like to try wholemeal or a sourdough version, but let’s learn to walk before trying to run. I topped mine with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil and parmesan, but the possibilities are endless. Even a dessert foccacia is possible!

Ingredients

385g all-purpose (plain) flour

1/2 teaspoon  salt

1 teaspoon  white sugar

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon garlic paste

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 pinch ground black pepper

1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil

1¼ cups (300 ml) milk

15g grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Toppings: sun-dried tomatoes, basil, parmesan, garlic

Directions

In a bowl mix the milk, yeast and sugar and wait until it becomes foamy and bubbly (This indicates that your yeast is active, if the yeast doesn’t bubble and foam it has gone bad and you can’t use it)

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, , garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) parmesan cheese and black pepper.

Mix in the vegetable oil, then add the milk-yeast mixture.

Stir with a wooden spoon till the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic (around 10 minutes)

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil.

Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in size. (If you are tight on time you could heat your oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 then turn it off and place the bowl with the dough in it)

Center your oven rack, preheat oven to hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8.

Punch dough down; place on greased baking sheet. Pat into a ½ -inch (15 mm) thick rectangle or any shape you desire.

To give the dough the dimples effect, use your fingertips , pushing gently all over the surface of the dough

Place your selected topping

Brush top generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, rosemary and salt.

Allow the dough to rest for 10-15 minutes

Bake in preheated hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8 oven for 15 minutes, or until the sidesbegin to brown then place under the broiler (grill) till the top becomes golden brown.

Serve warmIMG_1896

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Cherry Cake

IMG_2486It’s been a while since we’ve had cake, just for us in the house. By a while I mean like three weeks. Over Easter, hot cross buns were made and chocolate was consumed, but the desire for a nice cake was fulfilled this weekend. I gave Sweetapolitia’s Cherry Cake a try, with a few adaptations of my own, and created a cute pink 6″ maraschino cherry and almond cake that was moist and ‘practically perfect in every way’ (yes I may have been watching Mary Poppins too).

I also found a use for my little cupcake stand, which I always forget about when photographing actual cupcakes. So it was temporarily converted into a maraschino cherry stand for these photos. Also our roses are in bloom constantly, so why not take advantage of it?

3 steps:

Make this cake

Eat this cake

Repeat. Because you’ll want to.

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Cherry Cake: makes 3 six inch layers

Ingredients

  • 180g flour
  • 225g sugarIMG_2499
  • 13g baking powder
  • 85g cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 150ml milk, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons Maraschino cherry juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra large egg whites, room temperature (or 3 large ones)
  • pink food colouring
  • About 15 Maraschino cherries, halved or quartered

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Grease and line the bottoms of three 6″ tins.
  2. In the bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder on low speed.
  3. Add in the butter one piece at a time. Beat on low speed until all the butter has been incorporated, about 3 minutes. The mixture should have a fine crumbly texture.
  4. Combine half the milk, the cherry juice, lemon juice, and vanilla.
  5. In a separate measuring cup, gently whisk the egg whites and remaining milk.
  6. With stand mixer on low speed, gradually add the cherry juice mixture, followed by colour and beat until combined and smooth.
  7. Put the mixer back on low speed and add the egg white mixture in three parts, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat for 1 minute.
  8. Toss the cherry bits in a little flour and gently fold them into the batter by hand.
  9. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center is removed with few crumbs.

Icing

  • 100g butterIMG_2487
  • 70g cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp maraschino cherry juice
  • 250g icing sugar
  1. Beat butter until pale and fluffy
  2. Add the cream cheese, vanilla, cherry juice and half the icing sugar and beat on low until a smooth paste forms.
  3. Add the rest of the icing sugar and beat on high until fluffy.
  4. Ice as desired.

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