January 22, 2009

The Need to Knead

Olive Oil Focaccia with Chopped Green Onions, Arugula and Feta

Seems like forever since I've dug my hands into some soft, squishy dough, stretched and kneaded it into a glossy, springy ball and made some homemade bread.

For a long time I was making my own bread almost every day. Or at least every other day. I had the luxury of time and love the meditative rhythm of this domestic activity.
Then things got so busy over the holidays that I simply got out of the habit.

This morning, once again, I was overcome with the need to knead.

It is impossible to get a good photo of yourself kneading with one hand.

This Olive oil dough is the perfect blank canvas. Some delicious combinations I've experimented with:
  • extra bits of cheese (something we always have lying around) and tomatoes
  • a mélange of raw onions and minced garlic
  • a simple mix of fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme, and a heavy drizzling of olive oil
  • caramelized onions
  • a gutsy mix of bacon and arugula
  • roasted red peppers and ricotta
  • coarse sea salt, red pepper flakes and olive oil

Today I made up an interesting mix out of a few things I had sitting in the fridge; a half a bag of arugula, a couple green onions and some feta. I chopped up the onions and arugula and mixed them in a bowl with some olive oil, salt and spicy red pepper flakes. Those were scattered on the dough and then dotted with crumbled feta cheese.

It was excellent!

Simple Olive Oil Dough
  • 1 1/3 cup (325 mls) lukewarm water
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 1/3 cup (75 mls) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 4 cups (450-600 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
Whisk together the water and yeast in a large bowl until yeast is dissolved. Whisk in olive oil. Add one cup of the flour and whisk until combined.
Switch to a wooden spoon and stir in the salt and slowly incorporate enough flour to make a soft dough.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead, using as little extra flour as possible, for about 5 minutes. The dough should look satiny and feel moist but shouldn't stick to clean hands.
Place the dough in a large, clean bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size, at least 1 hour. Two hours is better.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Punch down the dough and stretch onto a cornmeal sprinkled or olive oil drizzled baking sheet.
Add toppings of your choice and let it rest while the oven warms up.
Bake until golden about 30-35 minutes.

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Juan Garcia said...

Now THAT looks incredibly delicious! ~drooling~

Laura said...

I've been having that same yen for dough lately...you've inspired me to do something about it!

Leesa said...

That looks really delish!!!!!!

Susan May said...

Wow - that looks amazing and sounds delicious - it almost inspires me to give it a try. Sadly, I know my limitations!

Mike Smith said...


Now, I find that it is best to be on your knees when taken by the need to kneed. Anyway, this looks great. Can you tell me what rugula is? I have never heard of it.
Also, do you or anybody have a good recipe/method for making naan bread?

Loulou said...

If you're into making bread you should try this one. It has a wonderful, soft crumb and nice flavor.

I'm glad to hear it! Making bread is a great habit to get into.

It was! A bit spicy, earthy and salty from the feta. Luckily we only at 1/3 of it so more today!

Susan May
It isn't difficult at all! I hope you give it a try.

Hard tile floors = no kneeling! :)

Arugula is rocket or la roquette.
Yes, I have a great recipe for nann bread. I've never posted it though. Here is a similar recipe to the one I make: http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/534227

croquecamille said...

I love baking bread, too! Maybe I'll give this one a shot next time I get a hankering for ultra-fresh bread. :)

And I second the request for a good naan recipe.

Lori said...

Thanks so much for the dough recipe. This looks amazing!

Valerie, En Bonne Compagnie said...

MmmmmMMMM sounds tres bon! Re the difficulty of taking the picture, maybe your fab new camera has a timer so you could set it up?!

Loulou said...

I'll have to post the naan recipe I make. It is really good!

Let me know what you think!

Ah, I didn't think of using the timer. Duh!
Thanks for reminding me. :)

Farmgirl Susan said...

YUM! : )

Loulou said...

Farmgirl Susan
It is yum! :)
Made more yesterday, covered it in thinly sliced red onions and thyme. So good with soup!