Having finally gotten some sort of harvest in an abundance of blackberries (thanks to the assorted wildlife who’ve eaten our garden), I wanted to do more than just the same old fruit crumble, not that there is anything wrong with fruit crumble. So it was off to the web and off to my collection of cookery books and magazines. Gary bought me Nigel Slater’s Tender volumes 1 and 11 for Christmas a couple of years back and it was there I found Nigel’s recipe for Blackberry Focaccia. What a revelation! Having said that I ought to have paid more attention to the number of servings – it serves 8 and there’s just the two of us! Whoops. I’d like to add though that not a morsel was wasted.
Nigel thinks it is more suitable for tea than dessert, but we had some for dessert and it was delightful, and although he says it should be eaten while warm and doesn’t keep, we had some with coffee next day and it was still lovely. I think it would be fabulous picnic food too. We used what was left to make a bread and butter pudding – and that was delicious.
Ingredients – for the dough:
- 450g strong white flour,
- 7g dried yeast (or 14g fresh yeast),
- 1tsp of sea salt,
- 1tbsp of caster sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
- 350ml warm water
Ingredients – for the topping:
- 250g blackberries
- 2tbsps olive oil
- 2tbsps caster sugar (again I used vanilla sugar)
- icing sugar for dusting
I always use my Kitchen Aid for bread making these days, it merrily kneads while I clear up and since I use the bowl to raise the bread, the only extra washing up is the dough hook. It’s a ‘win-win’ kind of thing. Simply put the salt, flour and yeast into the bowl, add the sugar and then as you start to mix it up add the water slowly. You can either use a food mixer or combine the ingredients with a spoon before turning it out on a floured surface to knead lightly for about five minutes. I just left the Kitchen Aid to get on with the kneading while I put stuff away.
Once done, it needs to go into an oiled bowl (Nigel says floured, but I always use a bit of olive oil or butter round the bowl) to rise. I simply grab the dough in one hand from the mixing bowl, slosh a bit of oil into the bowl with the other hand and pop the dough back in, covering with a clean cloth and put it in a warm place to rise. It should take about an hour, but it will depend on the temperature really. I popped mine on the AGA and it didn’t take that long.
Once it has doubled in size its time to knock it back. You then need to combine half of the blackberries into the dough. This wasn’t as messy or as tricky as I’d envisaged. Nigel recommends a shallow tray, but I always use an AGA cold tray for bread so that’s where it went. Now scatter the rest of the blackberries over the top of the dough and press them in gently. Cover the dough and leave to rise for the second time.
Nigel states you need an oven temperature of 220C or Gas 7 if you have a conventional cooker, and you’ll want to preheat it. I use the baking oven in the AGA.
Once your loaf has doubled in size again, its time to drizzle the olive oil over the top and then scatter your castor sugar before it goes in the oven. Mine took a bit longer than the 45 minutes, but I did have to add a cold shelf above it to prevent it burning and give it time to cook to the centre. Next time I think I’ll either make half the quantity as there’s just the two of us or if I’m making the full amount I’d cut the dough into two separate loaves after the first rising to make sure it cooks evenly.
It should be golden brown, crisp but still springy to touch when its done. Let it cool before dusting with the icing sugar and then its ready to serve. Enjoy!