Thursday, October 6, 2011


Not surprisingly, bread appears often throughout the Harry Potter series. Often it is accompanied by cheese, or thickly sliced and topped with butter at the Weasley table. But its first appearance is at the beginning of Harry and Ron's first Christmas holidays at Hogwarts:

"They sat by the hour eating anything they could spear on a toasting fork-- bread, English muffins, marshmallows-- and plotting ways of getting Malfoy expelled, which were fun to talk about even if they wouldn't work" (Sorcerer's Stone 199).

This is also one of those rare opportunities I love so much because J.K.Rowling has not specified what kind of bread our young wizards enjoy by the common room fire. So I get to choose! Today we shall make Tomato and Rosemary Focaccia. I have wanted to try this recipe for quite some time. It comes from an excellent British cookbook called Vegetarian Bible, from the earth to the table, edited by Micola Grimes and Fionna Biggs. If you're looking for a good staple vegetarian cookbook, this is a good one!

Heads up, I apologize in advance for any less-than-focused photos... while making pumpkin soup the other day, my camera decided it just couldn't take it anymore... and jumped into a sink full of water. Of its own free will, of course. Yes, I tried the rice thing, and that did allow me to access my photos, but the lens refuses to funcion :( This means I'm taking photos with my phone. Thank goodness for crazy technology! 

Moving on!

You Will Need:
4.5 cups flour, plus extra for dusting (the book recommends Strong White Bread Flour, but I only had all-purpose, so that's what I used)
1.5 tsp salt
1.5 tsp active dry yeast (that's less than 1 envelope)
2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary, plus extra sprigs for garnish
6 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1.25 cups lukewarm water
6 oven-dried or sun-blush tomato halves
1 tsp coarse sea salt

Firstly, oven-dry your tomatoes: cut grape or cherry tomatoes in half and place on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes until shriveled.
1. Sift together the salt and flour in a bowl and stir in the yeast and chopped rosemary.
2. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in 4 Tbs of the olive oil, and mix quickly with a wooden spoon. 
3. Gradually stir in the lukewarm water but do not overmix. (I had to add an extra splash of water).
4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. The dough may be quite wet (mine wasn't), but don't add more flour.
5. Brush a bowl with oil. Shape the dough into a ball and place into the bowl. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours, until doubled in size.

6. Brush a cookie sheet with oil. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured counter and punch down, then knead for 1 minute.
7. Place the dough onto the cookie sheet and press out into an even layer. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until doubled(ish) again.

8. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Whisk the remaining oil with a little water in a bowl. Dip your fingers in the oil mixture and press them into the dough, making dimples all over.

9. Sprinkle with the sea salt (I used less than recommended). Press the tomato halves into the dimples, drizzle with the remaining (some of the remaining) oil mixture, and sprinkle with rosemary sprigs.

10. Lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a plate or wire rack to cool slightly. Always Serve warm. 

This is absolutely, no questions asked, positively, the Best. Bread. Ever. I highly recommend that you make some. Everyday. And enjoy it. Wow.

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