Please accept my apologies for the slight hiatus on Love the kitchen. I have not run out of inspiration or ideas – far from it. In the last fortnight I have been dealing with the loss of Aslan, my very much loved cat who suddenly passed away; entertaining parents for a long weekend (great opportunity to try out recipes with); and cycling as much as possible. All in all, finding the time has been a little difficult.
The taste, and smell of home-made bread is second to none. Admittedly, the proving process can be a little tedious for the impatient or starving, but it is very easy to work around the simple stages and plan other activity in between. There are so many delicious varieties and flavours – this is a section I really want to evolve on Love the kitchen. One of the simplest, and easiest recipes I have made is for a Focaccia loaf. This however, is not it. Like most things I attempt, I adapt the ingredients slightly – the iterative process of the subtle changes can have a really significant impact to the finished article. Over the last month, I have been bringing in a new version each week into work (with a homemade paté of some description) and let my colleagues judge. This has been the favourite so far – (no total disasters though, I am pleased to report) and the first I wanted to share.
One thing which makes the flavour quite distinctive is the addition of the Black Onion seeds – an ingredient I have not used before. Rather confusingly, Black Onion Seeds can be found under different names, notably Nigella Sativa, Kalonji, Roman Coriander, Black Sesame, Black Cumin, and Black Caraway. To add even more confusion, the seed has no relation to the onion family. It has a distinct earthy and nutty flavour which is also slightly bitter and pepper with a crunchy texture. These seeds are often sprinkled on naan breads before baking, and, as I have since discovered (after making it first) used in Middle Eastern bread dough.
Confession time: However much I enjoy doing everything by hand – particularly the kneading – I cheat. I inherited a hand-me-down Magimix food processor from my mother, and it saves a good few minutes at the beginning. I have made this entirely my hand with great success – for once have employed the use of a labour saving device.
Paul Hollywood I am not! For me, I really enjoy the process and end result.
- 300g Strong White Flour
- 200g Wholemeal Flour
- 2 x tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 x tbsp poppy seeds
- 2 x tbsp black onion (Nigella) seeds
- 7g yeast
- 1 tsp tea salt
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 275ml warm water
- 3 x tbsp olive oil
- coarse sea salt and additional seeds for crust
- Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, and mix thoroughly. If using a food processor, ensure you have fitted a plastic dough blade. If making by hand, put in a large mixing bowl and combine using a bell whisk - I think it works just as well.
- Add 3 tbsp of olive oil to 300ml of warm water, then if using a food processor, turn on the motor and gently pour the liquid down the feed tube. After a minute or so, a ball of dough will form.
- If mixing by hand, create a well in the middle of the mixture and pour in the the liquid. Fold the dry and wet ingredients together until a dough ball is formed. Remove the dough and knead for 5 minutes or so until the texture is no longer sticky, yet still elastic.
- Return dough to a bowl, cover with a tea towel or cling film for 1 hour, and allow to rise.
- The dough should have doubled in size (maybe a little more). Knead again for a minute or so, then mould into an oval shape and place on a baking tray. (Tip: I use a silicone non-stick baking sheet to line a baking tray and have been very happy with with the results).
- Cover again with a tea towel, and allow to rise prove for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Uncover the loaf, and score the top using a dull blade into a diamond formation. (I use a plastic dough scraper). Gently brush or spray olive oil over the top. Then, sprinkle on top a combination of sea salt (my favourite is Gros Sel de Guérande) - a natural coarse grey sea salt) with black onions seeds, and gently press them into the top of the dough with the palm of your hand.
- Bake in the oven for 30 mins. Once cooked, tun onto a wire rack and allow to cool.