There are few things better than the smell of fresh bread - unless it's bread that you've baked yourself. There is a great joy and satisfaction in forming the dough, then kneading it, leaving it to prove and, of course, the smell of it as it bakes in the oven. (You also get a lot of 'oohs' and 'ahs' when people find out you've made a loaf of bread from scratch!)
One of the simplest breads to make is the focaccia. It's easy, quick and tastes great. This is also a good recipe if you are new to bread baking.
2 cups plain flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoon dried yeast 1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs 1 cup warm water 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon sea salt flakes
Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir in yeast and herbs.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Add 2 tablespoons oil and warm water. Gradually combine the flour mixture, water and oil either with your hands or a wooden spoon, or how I was taught, with a table knife.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. (You'll know the dough is elastic when you press your thumb into the base and the dough springs back).
Place dough in a greased bowl and tightly cover with plastic wrap (I normally put the bowl in a plastic bag). Set in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. This should take about an hour.
Punch down dough and knead again on a lightly floured surface until it's back to its original size. Shape it into a 20cm round and place onto a greased baking tray. Flatten the dough slightly with your fingertips, creating little indents. Cover and leave to rise for another hour or until double in size.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan forced.
Brush the dough with the left over oil and sprinkle with salt flakes.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden.
One way to check if your bread is ready is if you tap it on the bottom and it makes a hollow sound. Another way is when the yeast smell is gone.
This is great. Not just the recipe. I happen to hate plastic wrap with a passion, knowing the toxic stuff it's made of and how it has become so "normal" and unquestioned to use. I'm so glad you offered an alternative. I used to put my bowl in a spare bag. But then I found the covering is mainly to stop it drying out, and not letting in bugs, kids, cat... as well. So I now do what my grandma did and cover my bowl will a clean damp towel. No noticeable change in my results