Yes, it’s summer. Yes, it’s traditionally hot. And it has been. But we’ve returned to reasonable temps, with open windows, lovely breezes and comfortable nights. It’s not typical, which may explain my equally not typical in summer urge to fire up the oven and bake. But I must be out of practice.
The other night, after the kids were in bed and while hubby was out helping a friend, I had a craving for scones. Don’t ask. I think I was channelling Goldy Schulz, the protagonist in a series of murder mysteries by Diane Mott Davidson. Goldy is a small town caterer who solves murders in her quaint town while whipping up delicious foods, both out of necessity and because it de-stresses her and helps her think. Every book contains the recipes that Goldy makes, too. They’re a lot of fun.
Anyway, I couldn’t shake the urge, so I got up and went to the kitchen, which is sleeping child adjacent. And since said child was a bit restless, I didn’t turn on the main light, choosing to work by the glow above the sink. The result was tasty, but rather ugly, scones. They probably needed a dribble more liquid, but it was hard to tell in the dim light. I like cream scones because they are simple. No cutting in cold butter, mainly. And these take well to the addition of a little whole wheat flour. They satisfied my craving, if not the need for pretty blog images.
Today, I chose the oven as my cooking weapon of choice yet again. This time it was to make focaccia bread for dinner. It’s something that I did often before we had kids. I can tell it’s been a while. The results were prettier than the scones, but needed work. I like the whole wheat flour in it. I got some from a local historic mill, and I’ve been enjoying using it. But the end product was less focaccia, more pizza. I’ve shared both recipes (with notes on the bread). I’d love to see what you do with them.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
A generous handful of raisins or currants (or other dried fruit or even chocolate chips)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
With a whisk, blend together the flours, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Add the butter, cream, and milk; and stir until a shaggy dough has formed, adding a little more milk if necessary to just bring it together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface. Pat it into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick and 7 inches wide or so. Cut into 6 triangles and arrange on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake until lightly browned, 10 to 13 minutes. Serve spread thickly with butter (laced with cinnamon sugar), jam or clotted cream, whatever that is. I’ve not had it, but I hear it’s good with scones.
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 tablespoon instant dry yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
In a small bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the sugar and yeast in warm water and let it sit about 10 minutes to activate the yeast.
Add the salt, oil and flours and mix. If you’re not using a stand mixer, skip the spoon and go with your hands. Depending on your flour and the humidity, you may need to add a bit more water. Knead for 5 minutes (probably more like 10 by hand).
Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover it with a cloth and let rise it in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes or so.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment
Divide the dough in half and press each into a rectagle at each end of the pan. Not too thin. It’s not pizza. Cover it with the towel and let it rest another 20 minutes, then dimple it all over with your fingers and brush it liberally with olive oil.
Now you can top it. And this is where I went wrong. I had some lovely Fruilano cheese, wich is a semi-firm, tasty cheese that melts well. But it’s not really full flavoured. And I used too much, despite attempting restraint. The next time, I’d go with much less of it, with a dusting of fresh Parmesan or Romano. Again, this isn’t pizza. Then I added sliced fresh tomatoes and some (over) sauteed onions, which burnt a little. Use your imagination. Properly caramelized onions with sage and Asiago. Proscuitto or thinly sliced salami. Leftover grilled veggies… Or just the olive oil (maybe flavoured with a little garlic and herbs). Whatever floats your boat.
Bake the focaccia in preheated oven for 10 minutes, after which, carefully slide it out of the pan, directly onto the oven rack. Bake it for another 5-10 minutes (careful that you don’t burn any toppings).
Makes 2 breads