This bread is a work of art created by a craftsperson who has received extensive training in the field of baking and has an outstanding ability to mix, ferment then hand shape the risen dough and finally bake a hand crafted loaf. These bakers are well versed in the science behind the chemical reactions of all the ingredients and the most suitable environment for the bread to rise.
An artisan baker has the knowledge to create various shapes, textures and colours by using the four basic ingredients of bread making which are flour, salt, yeast and water. Bread such as sourdough does not include yeast.
Sweet varieties such as Brioche may include ingredients such as butter, milk and egg. Focaccia may include olive oil, olives and cheese. For bread to be classified as Artisan it should contain only natural ingredients. Any form of chemicals should not be included.
Centuries ago bread was made using only natural ingredients in a small bakery.
Most cultures have their own unique hand crafted loaves such as Baguette, Brioche, Panini, Focaccia, Ciabatta, Stollen, Panettone, Bagels, Challah and the list goes on.
Most times I prefer to bake Focaccia as it is easy to make, quick to rise and has several variations, baking time is not too long as well. You can have various toppings ranging from Rosemary and sea salt crystals to caramelized onions, tomatoes olives and mozzarella. I usually serve Focaccia for lunch with grilled chicken and a green salad. Most times I keep the topping simple
Focaccia Recipe ( 4 servings )
300 grams flour
1 tsp yeast
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
180 ml water
1 tbs olive oil
½ tsp dried oregano or basil
6 sliced black olives
2 onions thinly sliced and caramelised
2 sliced tomatoes
¼ tsp oregano to sprinkle
Olive oil to drizzle
Mix flour and yeast add salt , dried herbs and sugar, mix well make well in centre and pour water. Knead well until a smooth elastic dough has formed, transfer to an oiled bowl cover with a tea towel and let it rise for around 3 minutes. Divide dough into 2 portions roll out into rounds of 1 cm thickness and cover with cling wrap for a further 20 minutes. Meanwhile slice and caramelise onions in olive oil and keep aside to cool. Just before putting it into the oven make little wells on the dough with your thumb. Place the caramelised onions and sliced tomatoes on top, sprinkle some dried oregano and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a preheated oven of 220 C for 15 – 18 minutes.
This bread is great for sandwiches too, just slice it in the middle and add some cold meat, iceberg and spicy sauce. Yum!