One of the things I love most about food (besides eating it!) is the way it can bring people together and help forge friendships. Whether you’re sat round a big table sharing supper with friends and family, swapping recipe tips with colleagues or comparing cookbooks with the person stood next to you at the library; food is something we all have in common. So many of my friends are scattered so far, it’s hard for us to all get together, but, when we do I can absolutely guarantee we’ll be doing some serious eating!
In particular I like the way recipes are handed along, down families – like the Easter biscuit recipe written out by my grandmother, stashed away in my mum’s cookbook collection; between strangers all around the world through all the wonderful blogs and websites there are and, with this recipe, among friends. I don’t know where it originated from but it was taught to my good friend Al (Hello!) by her Italian ‘zia’ in Puglia. I followed Al’s instructions this weekend, put my own twist on it with goat’s cheese and rosemary and came out with a beautifully light bread that had golden, olive oil-soaked crispy base and cute little dimples on top. And now I’m hoping that lovely Jane (Bonjour!) who requested I make foccacia for the blog will be making her own version in the near future.
- 500g strong flour
- 150g boiled mashed potato, still warm
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 packet yeast (7g)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 30g olive oil, plus extra for kneading and drizzling
- warm water
- toppings – herbs, cheese, tomatoes, olives, salt
Mix together the flour, potato, salt, yeast, sugar, oil, add water a little at a time to form a soft, pliable dough. The dough should be quite moist but not so sticky you can’t knead it.
Using a little oil on the counter and your hands, knead the dough for several minutes until it becomes smooth. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise until doubled (1-2 hours).
Put enough oil in a baking tin to cover the base, don’t be shy, use several good glugs so there’s a pool for the dough to bathe in.
Knock the dough back (press out all the air) and place it in the tin making dimples in the top with your fingers. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for another 30 mins.
Heat the oven to 200°C (180 for fan ovens). Top the dough with whatever combination of toppings takes your fancy and some more olive oil. Bake for 20-30mins until golden and enjoy with a messy bowl of pasta!