Sweet Focaccia | Focaccia Dolce

Focaccia Dolce | Sweet Focaccia - whole with slice showing

This is a delicious sweet focaccia recipe from the brilliant Italian Cucchiaio d’Argento blog. We have made this a few times and have found the recipe very easy to follow, with perfect results each time, so we wanted to share and translate it for those who can’t follow the original recipe in Italian.

This is not as sweet as a cake, but sweeter than a bread. It’s delicious as a breakfast cake/bread, on its own or spread with your favourite jam or spread (why not try it with our sweet cashew butter or our home-made nutella…coming soon!).

We have followed the recipe to the letter, aside from using plain flour to replace the 00 flour, and strong white bread flour to replace the manitoba flour, as these are more commonly available (and affordable) in the UK.

Sweet focaccia in its tin, just come out of the oven.

Ingredients – for the dough

  • 400g plain white flour
  • 100g strong white bread flour
  • 120g demerara sugar
  • 7g dried yeast
  • 200ml whole milk
  • 20ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 110-130ml water
  • 1tsp sea salt

Ingredients – for the crispy top

  • extra virgin olive oil (approximately 1tbsp plus additional for greasing)
  • approx. 1tbsp water
  • demerara sugar

Method

  1. Place the two flours, the sugar, yeast, oil and lukewarm milk into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Start mixing on a low setting with a K beater, drizzling in the water in a thin stream as you do this.
  3. Once all the ingredients are mixed together, swap the K beater for a dough hook and mix it for approximately 15 minutes, adding the salt towards the end. The dough will be ready once it is smooth and elastic / bouncy.
  4. Transfer the dough into a clean bowl and cover with clingfilm.
  5. Leave it to rise until it has approximately doubled (around 2 hours). We tend to place it on a shelf in the airing cupboard, but any warm, non-draughty room will be fine.
  6. Line and grease (with extra virgin olive oil) a 24cm round cake tin (we find a springform cake tin works very well for this).
  7. Once the dough has risen, transfer it into the greased, lined tin.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C fan.
  9. Use your finger tips to create dips all over the surface and to help spread the dough evenly over the surface. We found this to be quite sticky, so you may not get perfect dips, but as long as the dough is spread reasonably evenly across the cake tin and the surface is a little rough/uneven, it will work.
  10. Whisk together 1tbsp of water and extra virgin olive oil (this will turn into a thick emulsion) and brush this over the focaccia dough surface.
  11. Sprinkle the surface with a generous amount of demerara sugar.
  12. Bake the sweet focaccia in the pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes until the surface is looking golden and a little cracked.
  13. Leave to cool in the tin for approximately 15 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely, or serve warm!

This delicious sweet focaccia will keep for a few days in an airtight container, or wrapped in clingfilm and tin foil, but the crispy topping will lose its crispiness and will go more soft and sticky after the first day. It will still be delicious!

One slice of sweet focaccia

Sweet Focaccia | Focaccia Dolce | Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!

Pizza

Ham and mushroom pizza

How to make Pizza from scratch

Simple Pizza recipe

Making pizza is far easier than many people think. Here is a simple recipe to make the dough and cook it with toppings of your choice.

Ingredients for the pizza dough (for one 11 inch pizza) – increase quantities for more pizzas

  • 150g plain flour (or Farina Tipo 00 if you can get it)
  • 1/2 tsp white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dried yeast (I use Fermipan Red Dried Yeast)
  • 2tsp extra virgin olive oil (plus generous additional amounts to rub onto the dough before each rise)
  • 100ml of lukewarm water
  • a generous pinch of fine sea salt

Note: Flour and water may need adjusting up or down, depending on the humidity in the room and the specific flour you are using.  Always add water gradually to achieve the right consistency, and have additional flour to hand in case you need to add a little.

Method

You can watch the video of me making the dough for 3 pizzas here:

Place the flour into a large bowl and mix in the sea salt. Make a well in the middle and add the sugar and yeast.

Gradually add some of the water and start mixing the flour into it with a large mixing spoon, then add the oil and keep mixing the flour in from the outside of the ‘well’. Keep adding water until you have more or less mixed in all the flour and have a wet and uneven/lumpy dough. At this point, remove any dough sticking to the spoon and proceed by hand, kneeding long enough to have a soft, malleable dough that almost doesn’t stick to your hands (it needs to stick a little or it will be too dry). Add extra water or flour if needed. This process should only take you a minute or two.

Tip: I find the best way of kneeding is to pull away from you, then fold the dough over itself with your knuckles, then keep rotating the dough and repeating this action – see video above. When the dough is ready, it will be quite springy to the touch. Shape the dough into a ball (you can separate this into separate portions for each pizza later, or make separate dough balls now).

Take a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil into your hands and rub it all over the dough ball. Place the dough ball back in the bowl (or if you’ve made separate dough balls, place each one in a separate bowl) and cover with a dry cloth or clingfilm. Put the covered bowl(s) into a warm, draught-free place (I find the airing cupboard ideal) for 1.5-2 hours, until the dough ball(s) has/have roughly doubled in size.

After the dough has rested the first time:

If you still have one single dough ball for all your pizzas, place it on a floured surface (a large wooden chopping board is ideal, but a clean kitchen work surface will work equally well) and, using a dough cutter or a smooth-bladed large knife, cut it into equal portions according to the number of pizzas you are making.

If you had already split the dough into separate portions, work with each dough ball individually.

Take each portion of dough and work it by grabbing a ‘corner’ at a time and pulling away from you with your finger tips, then folding it into the centre, repeating for each ‘corner’ as you rotate the dough. See video above for demonstration of how to do this. Shape each portion into a ball and rub generously with extra virgin olive oil again. Place into a bowl and cover with a cloth or clingfilm. Leave it in a room-temperature draught-free place for 1-1.5 hours (I leave it in the kitchen at this point – if the dough is warm – e.g. from the airing cupboard – when you make the pizza, it can stick to the pizza paddle).

You’ll know it’s ready when it’s more or less doubled in size.

Pizza dough rising
Pizza dough before and after second rising

Place one dough ball onto a floured surface (e.g. wooden chopping board) and gently stretch it out to make a pizza shape (you can also start the process by moving the dough around over your knuckles – make sure you don’t wear any rings or it will tear!) – see video above. Once you have the desired shape and size and the dough is nice and thin, you can pinch around the edges to give you a slightly thicker crust.

Top with your chosen toppings – see some suggestions in the pictures below – transfer to the oven using a pizza paddle and bake in a hot pizza oven, if possible (this will only take 1-2 minutes…follow pizza oven instructions, but you’re likely to need to rotate it during cooking to ensure it cooks evenly).

Ooni Pizza oven

Tip: If you don’t have a pizza oven, I find it works better to cook it in a pan and under a grill than to bake it in a conventional oven (though if you have a pizza stone for the oven, this helps).

To cook it in a pan, place the shaped dough into a pre-heated pan or skillet that has been very lightly oiled, over a high heat. Put the toppings on when the base is already in the pan – this will start cooking the base. Then, once topped, place the pan under a very hot grill to cook the top.

Note: You can also use the dough to make Focaccia (recipe coming soon) and Calzone.

Pizza topping suggestions:

Pizza | Gloriously simple, gloriously good!

Nut, chia seed and raisin bars

Nut, chia seed and raisin bars

With the Covid-19 crisis affecting our shopping habits and availability of ingredients, I found that the various nut bars I often relied on for breakfast or a quick mid-afternoon snack were not always available in the shops.

I therefore decided to have a go at making my own. I have made these a few times now and they’re a big hit with the whole family, including hubby who doesn’t usually like eating nut bars.

Please note you can use whichever nuts you like – I love cashew nuts and started making them with just those, but they are very expensive (I had a look at the price of bulk bags of pistachios and they were even worse, so I’ll stear clear of those…shame, as I love pistachios!), so now I mix cashews and peanuts and the bars are equally delicious.

Nut, chia seed and raisin bars (makes approx. 14-16 bars)

  • 600g unsalted, unroasted nuts (I use blanched peanuts and raw cashew nuts, which I buy in bulk 1kg bags, but you can use whichever nuts take your fancy!)
  • 50g raisins
  • 70g chia seeds
  • 150g white chocolate (I use Callebaut white chocolate callets as they melt really well in the microwave, but any good quality chocolate that withstands melting and chilling well will work. I buy these in bulk… my latest purchase was a 2.5kg bag, which is dangerous in a house full of chocoholics!)
  • A generous sprinkling of fine sea salt

How to make nut, chia seed and raisin bars

Line a deep baking tray / cake pan with greaseproof paper (mine is 32cm long, 21cm wide and 5cm high, but use whatever you have available as long as it allows for a suitable depth for nut bars). I find it helps to grease the pan with butter or margarine to allow the paper to stick to it and stay flat and in place.

Heat up a large non-stick frying pan on a high heat, then add the cashew nuts and peanuts (or other nuts of your choice). As they start warming up, stir them frequently and as an oily sheen starts to appear, sprinkle them liberally with fine sea salt. Continue to stir frequently as they start to roast. I like the uneven roasting of doing this in a pan, where some are blackened in some parts and lightly golden in others, but it is a matter of personal preference / taste. For a more even roasting, you may wish to do this part in the oven.

While the nuts are roasting, melt the chocolate in the microwave (with the Callebaut chocolate I use, it takes about 2 minutes on high, stirring halfway through – different chocolate may behave differently though and to be on the safe side, you may want to do this more gently in a bain marie, with a bowl over a pan of hot water, letting the steam do the job).

Transfer nuts, raisins and chia seeds into a large mixing bowl and add the melted chocolate, stirring to make sure all the ingredients are well mixed, then transfer into your lined baking tray while still warm. Spread the mix out as evenly as possible and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours or overnight.

Once the giant nut bar is well chilled and solid, take it out of the tray, remove the greaseproof paper and place it on a large chopping board. Using a large knife or cleaver, cut it into 14-16 nut bars. Some small pieces will simply break off, but that’s ok – don’t waste them. Stick them in a bowl and eat them as a snack 🙂

  • Nut, chia seed and raisin bars

Nut, chia seed and raisin bars – Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!