The Musette: sticky ribs

Method

1. Pre-heat oven to 150˚C(300˚F)/130˚C fan/gas mark 2.

2. While the oven is warming, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic cloves.

3. Place a frying pan over a medium heat until it is hot, then add the olive oil, onion and garlic. Fry for 8 to 10 minutes or until the onion has softened but not coloured.

4. Add the chilli (if using), fennel seeds and brown sugar and cook, stirring, for a further 3 to 4 minutes until the sugar has melted.

5. Add the tomato ketchup and soy sauce and stir everything together. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens up.

6. Put the ribs into a deep-sided dish and pour over the sauce.

7. Cover the dish with foil and put it into the oven for at least 2 hours, then increase the oven temperature to 180˚C/(350˚F)/160˚C fan/gas mark 4, remove the foil and cook for 30 to 45 minutes more.

8. Once cooked, remove the tray from the oven and let the ribs cool down so they are not too hot to handle before serving.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. You can substitute honey, maple syrup or coconut blossom for the dark brown sugar.

2. If I’m using a bottled rather than home-made ketchup, I’ll also add a tbsp of tomato paste.

3. Feel free to up the garlic and chilli if you enjoy more heat.

4. Depending upon the size of the ribs, you may need to cook them for longer, so that most of the fat has melted.

5. If you want to prepare in advance. Allow the sauce to cool, cover the ribs with the sauce and cover the dish with cling film (plastic wrap) before leaving in the fridge overnight. Remove from the fridge before cooking to allow meat to reach room temperature.

6. The sauce also works well on pork chops and chicken wings.

The Musette: blueberry and lemon coffee cake

I follow a lot of food blogs, some vegan some not. But they’re all written by passionate cooks whose recipes are tried and tested. I often read about recipes and think: “Oooh, delicious, I must make that sometime.” Then, when sometime occurs, I can’t find the recipe. But, no more. I’ve set up a system whereby I store the addresses of all these fabulous recipes though I doubt I’ll live long enough to make them all!

As soon as I read Diana’s recipe for Blueberry Lemon Quick Bread, I realised that with only one egg in the list of ingredients this would probably work equally well as a vegan version. And, you know what? It did! A big thank you to Diana for the inspiration.

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 195g (11/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 75g (1/3 cup) golden cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp organic lemon zest
  • 180ml (3/4 cup) plant-based milk, I used almond milk
  • 3tbsp aquafaba (or use 1 egg, lightly beaten)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100g (1 cup) blueberries, I used frozen

Lemon Glaze:

  • 125g (1 cup) icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1-4 tbsp organic lemon juice

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan). Spray the bottom and sides of a 1 litre (9″ x 5″) loaf tin with vegetable oil and line the bottom with greaseproof (parchment) paper.

2. Into a large bowl sift and combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add the lemon zest, sugar and stir well.

3. In a small bowl whisk together the plant-based milk, aquafaba (or egg) and oil.

4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and combine gently with a spatula using figure of eight movements until there are no dry spots of flour.

5. Add 1tbsp flour to a bowl containing the blueberries and gently mix to coat the berries with the flour. This will prevent them sinking to the bottom of the cake. Gently fold the berries into the batter – it should drop off the spatula – and pour into the baking tin. Level the top of the cake with an offset spatula.

6. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

7. Place the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before carefully remove the cake from the tin and placing it back on the cooling rack until completely cool.

8. Meanwhile, make the glaze by combining the icing sugar and lemon juice (1 tbsp at a time) in a small bowl. Add just enough lemon juice so that the mixture is thick but you can still drizzle it from a tablespoon.

9. Drizzle the glaze over the bread, wait for it to set and then enjoy!

10. You can store the cake in an air tight container or cover with cling film (plastic wrap) for 3-4 days but, trust me, it won’t last that long. If you’re going to freeze the cake, don’t add the glaze until you’re ready to eat it.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the cake in the oven, put the timer on for 5-10 minutes less than the cake should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. If you think the cake is browning too quickly, particularly at the edges, cover it with an aluminium foil tent.

4. You can prepare a non-vegan version of the cake following Diana’s original recipe using a large egg and whole milk.

5. The recipe will work equally well with fresh blueberries but without the additional moisture from the frozen ones, you may need to add a couple of tablespoons of milk or plant-based milk to get the desired dropping consistency.

6. You can use this as the base recipe for a number of mixtures such as strawberries with orange, or raspberries with lemon, plums with clementines, rhubarb with ginger – the possibilities are endless.

 

The Musette: indulgent fish pie

We don’t get many visitors who stay overnight largely because we work from home. My brother-in-law and his wife recently spent a long week-end with us and I much enjoyed catering for them. My sister-in-law is a very skilled practionner of arts & crafts but not a particularly keen cook. I’m the opposite, barely capable of sewing a button back on but right at home in the kitchen. So it was a real treat to cook for them for a few days.

The fish pie is a British classic but all too often the fish ends up completely over cooked, lacking its identity, texture and flavour. In this recipe, I cool the sauce and then add the fish to the cold sauce before baking in a hot oven. This ensures that the fish is not over-cooked. This versatile recipe can be made with whatever fish you prefer. You can be creative with flavouring it, adding your favourite herbs and even some vegetables. You can make and chill the sauce ahead of time, or assemble the pie, minus the topping, and freeze.

Ingredients (serves 4 hungry cyclists)

  • 2 large shallots or 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 40g (3 tbs) butter
  • 1 large thyme sprig, leaves only
  • 4 tbsp Noilly Prat, dry vermouth or dry sherry
  • 2 tsp Pernod (optional)
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 250ml (1 cup) fish, chicken or vegetable stock (a stock cube is fine)
  • 200ml (3/4 cup) milk
  • 4 tbsp double (heavy) cream
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 250g (1/2 lb) skinless salmon or cod fillets
  • 180g (6 oz) smoked haddock fillets
  • 200g (7 oz) scallops
  • 150g (5 oz) large prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tbsp fresh organic lemon juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Creamed Potato Topping

  • 750g (1 1/2lbs) potatoes, peeled
  • 75g (5 tbsp) butter, cubed
  • 50ml (1/4 cup) hot milk or single cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 75g (2/3 cup) medium Emmental (or similar) cheese, finely grated

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6 (400°F). Grease a shallow (about 2 litre /8 cups capacity) pie dish.

2. Start by making the mashed potato for the topping. Chop the potatoes into chunks and cook in boiling salted water until tender. Drain well and push through a potato ricer, or mash until smooth. Add the butter and hot milk or cream and mix until well incorporated. Allow to cool slightly, then stir in the egg yolks. Season well and put to one side.

3. Sauté the shallots or onion and celery in the oil and butter with the thyme leaves for about 10 minutes until softened. Add the Noilly Prat and Pernod (if using), then cook for 4–5 minutes until reduced right down.

4. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute or so. Heat the stock in a small pan or a jug in the microwave. Gradually stir it into the vegetable mixture with a wooden spoon until smooth, and boil for about 5 minutes until reduced by a third. Mix in the milk, lower the heat and simmer for a few minutes. Season well, then add the cream and parsley and leave to cool.

5. Meanwhile, cut the fish into bite-sized chunks and scatter in the pie dish with the scallops and prawns. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and seasoning. Put the dish on a baking sheet.

6. Pour over the cool sauce and mix well but gently with a fork. Pipe the mashed potato on top or spread and fluff it up with a fork. Scatter with the grated cheese and put the pie immediately in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 (350°F), and bake for another 20 minutes, turning the dish if it starts to brown unevenly. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving and receiving plaudits!

7. Serve the fish pie with fresh steamed greens (peas, asparagus, spinach or broccoli are perfect) and a nice glass or two of your favourite white wine.

The Musette: savoury bread and butter pudding

 

Great Bloggers’ Bake-Off

I was so looking forward to taking part in this challenge but sadly this week has been too busy for me to don my pinny. Instead I have to resort to that old favourite of here’s one I prepared earlier which met the brief because it’s a sandwich sponge cake, as follows:

  • Your cake must have at least two layers
  • Your sponge cakes can be any flavour and any colour
  • You can fill your sandwich cake with any filling you like
  • We would like you to decorate the top of your cake
Chocolate and raspberry delight

This is a cake I made for a [cycling] clubmate’s 60th birthday at the behest of his wife. It was my first fancy cake and went down a treat. It was a triple layer genoise sponge soaked in Framboise liqueur and layered with rich chocolate meringue butter cream, topped with fresh raspberries and surrounded by chocolate curls. My beloved christened it my chocolate fort cake. That man has no romance in his soul!

 

On a lobster hunt in Nice

On the rare occasions I take a trip into Nice, I always reflect that I don’t visit nearly often enough. I generally try to steer clear during Carnival, as the traffic is horrendous. Recently my beloved met with a business colleague in Nice on a Monday during Carnival (Parade-free day) which gave me a rare opportunity to visit the Cours Saleya and have a poke around its Mondays-only antique market – better stalls tend to be found towards the centre.

I’m always on the lookout for old linen tablecloths large enough to fit my table, cookery and cycling books, cycling posters and silverware. This time I was also looking for some fine wire to repair one of my chandeliers and there’s a stall towards the rear of the market which sells bits to repair chandeliers but, sadly, not fine wire!

The weather was wonderful and as usual there was a veritable babel of foreign languages. After leaving the market empty-handed, I had a mooch round a bookshop before heading for lunch at one of Nice’s newer lobster bars. As you know, I’m very partial to these crustaceans.

On our previous trip, in December, we’d eaten at Lobsta which had earned a thumbs up from both of us. It’s a very small restaurant in a side street off the Prom. The rolls are prepared to order and, while not a patch on those in New England, were very tasty with plenty of lobster meat. I shall definitely darken its door again.

This time I tried out Super Lobster which unfortunately did not live up to its billing. The restaurant was quiet, pretty much what you’d expect on a Monday, giving the staff an opportunity to give of their best, or not. Sadly, it was the latter. Flabby, burnt sweet potato chips, burnt bun and a flat (totally unforgivable) Aperol Spritz. The bun had more additions (coleslaw and advocado) than the all-important lobster. Generally, the French do their own cuisine plus that from former colonies best. Though in Nice, because of its proximity to Italy, you’ll also find excellent Italian food. But that’s largely it.

Super Lobster is in a poor location, I was hard pressed to find it and I know Nice well. Restaurants are all about location. You have to be really special to thrive off the beaten track. Its offering is definitely inferior to that of Lobsta which, while not in an ideal place, is easier to find. It’s lobster rolls are also superior, more lobster – always a winner in my book – and closer to the real thing. Cuisine doesn’t always travel as much as we’d like to think.

I had assumed my beloved would be lunching with his colleague but he’d not eaten when we met up which gave him an opportunity to try out another newly opened franchise The Copper Branch, this time a vegetarian offering. He tried the falafel sandwich with oven baked french fries. He found the sandwich underseasoned though its garlic aioli dressing was overpowering – I can atest to that!. The first portion of chips were cold but a replacement hit the spot. This restaurant is in the main drag and its salads looked very enticing. I’ll be giving it another go but it’s unlikely to deplace vegan restaurant Gorilla in my affections.

Postscript: We tried out Lobsta again during the recent Paris-Nice bike race. The menu is now better focused, shorter and, more importantly, the lobster is still delicious.

The Musette: Tarta de Santiago

We used to host BBQs at the cycling club to thank our many volunteers and their families for their ongoing support as without their assistance we wouldn’t be able to hold our various events. I like to prepare from scratch the pre-BBQ nibbles, accompanying salads and all-important desserts, leaving M le President to handle the grill.

Of course, I also liked proving to the French that Brits can cook and I enjoy the challenge of mass catering. It’s as easy to cater for 100 as it is for 10, you just need to spend a bit more time on planning and preparation.

In these instances my go-to cookery book is one by Ferran Adria, the chef of the former legendary el Bulli restaurant. You can however put your chemistry sets away as this book The Family Meal contains the recipes he used to cook for his staff in the restaurant. They’re no less delicious and each recipe gives the quantities for generally 12, 20 and 75 portions. As I’ve found to my cost, particularly with baking, it’s not merely a question of doubling up a recipe however many times when you’re catering for large numbers.

The first time I made the cake, I didn’t appreciate its significance. Although it’s made all over Northern Spain, it hails from 16th century Santiago de Compostela, the city where Saint James’ body lies, and to where many make a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago (the way of St James). Typically, the cake will have the cross of St James stenciled on its top.

Ingredients (serves 24)

  • 150g (1½ cups) whole blanched almonds, toasted
  • 4 large organic eggs, approx 45g each (1⅔oz) without their shells
  • 150g (1cup) golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp freshly grated organic lemon zest
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Icing (confectioners’) sugar for dusting the top

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan).

2. Generously grease and flour a baking tin. I typically use a disposable tin-foil baking tin 18cm x 23cm x  5cm (6” x 9” x 2″). They’re easier for storing the cakes in the freezer, which I line with a couple of strips of greaseproof paper to make it simpler to remove the cake. This amount fills two tins to the required depth.

3. Finely grind the toasted and cooled almonds in a food processor.

4. With an electric mixer – or a strong arm –  beat the eggs with the sugar for around five minutes until thick, foamy and the whisk leaves ribbons in the batter. You’re aiming to get as much air as possible into the mixture.

5. Add the cinnamon and zest to the ground almonds, mixing well to combine.

6. Carefully fold the almonds into the egg mixture with a spatula so as to retain as much air as possible.

7. Pour the batter into the baking trays to a depth of around 1.5cm (about ½”) and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes, or until evenly risen, golden and shrinking away from the sides of the tin.

8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins before turning out. Take care as it’s quite a fragile cake.

9. Just before serving, use a small fine sieve to generously dust the top of the cake with icing (confectioners’) sugar.

10. Allegedly, the cake will keep in a tin for four days but, honestly, it’s so scrummy it’s always eaten the day it’s cooked.

11. It should also keep well in the freezer for a month or so but omit the icing sugar. Dust only when fully defrosted.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the cakes in the oven, put the timer on for 3-5 minutes less than the cakes should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. If you think the cake is browning too quickly, particularly at the edges, cover it with an aluminium-foil tent.

4. If you don’t like cinnamon, substitute with 1 tsp of freshly grated orange zest.

5. The first time I made this cake, I served it with strawberries in balsamic caramel, but it would go equally well with other fresh fruit in season.

6. The cake would be gluten-free except that the baking tins are both greased and floured. Omit the flour and instead fully line the tins with greaseproof (parchment) paper for a truly gluten-free version.

The Musette: macaroni cheese

It’s been surprisingly cold here, less than 10°C during the day. That’s pretty much unheard of, even at this time of year. To keep warm, particularly after some exertions in the fresh air, we’ve been enjoying hearty soups and casseroles. Over the week-end, I decided we deserved some real comfort food and what’s more comforting than macaroni cheese?

I looked at a number of “vegan” alternatives and cobbled together something that was absolutely delicious.  Was it as good as Adam Handling’s (Frog) truffle topped macaroni cheese? Err, no but it was still very tasty. Of course, I could throw caution (and the budget) to the wind and smother it in slices of truffles because everything taste better with them.

Ingredients (serves 8 hungry cyclists)

  • 1 ltr (4 cups) unsweetened oat or almond milk
  • 1 med sized cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1 med onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 fat cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 150g (1 cup) tapioca flour
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp white miso (optional)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 50ml (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for topping
  • 85g (3/4 cup) wholemeal spelt flour
  • 800g (8 cups) dried macaroni  – wholemeal or gluten free
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme (rosemary or parsley)
  • 80g (2 cups) fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs

Method

1. To make the “cheese” sauce, pour the milk into a saucepan, then add the cauliflower, onion, half the garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for approx. 15 minutes, until the cauliflower jhas softened. Allow the vegetables to cool a little.

2. Using an immersion blender, food processor or liquidiser, carefully blend with the tapioca flour, mustard, yeast, vinegar, miso and turmeric. Season to taste.

3. Cook the macaroni in plenty of salted boiling water until only just cooked and still firm to the bite (about half the cooking time stated on the packet). Drain, saving some of the cooking water, and put to one side.

4. Heat the oil and flour in a heavy-based pan over a low flame, stirring well to make a roux. Add a little of the cauliflower mixture at a time, whisking out the lumps, until it is all incorporated. Bring to a low simmer and cook for a few minutes, or until thickened and stretchy. It it’s too thick, add some of the pasta cooking water to thin. Then season to taste again.

5. Add the macaroni and a splash of olive oil, stir to combine, then transfer to a large casserole dish.

6. Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Finely chop the herbs and mix into the breadcrumbs with the remaining garlic and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil. Season to taste, then sprinkle over the macaroni and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden and bubbling on top.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. I was aiming to replicate the look and feel of macaroni cheese. It’s hard to totally replicate the taste without cheese. I found that a tbsp of white miso gave it that missing umami flavour.

2. I would suggest that you taste the “cheese” sauce to ascertain whether you need to add  more seasoning.

3. I used cauliflower to give the sauce body but equally you could use a mixture of vegetables. A few carrots or some sweet potato would probably give it more of a cheesy colour.

4. Of course, adding some vegan cheese, particularly mixing it with the breadcrumb topping, would also be delicious.

The Musette: sourdough pancakes

Sourdough starter is easily made — all you need to do is whisk together some flour and water — and its benefits are many. Not only does it give baked goods, from breads to pancakes to waffles to muffins and everything in between, great flavour and texture, it’s also really good for you because of its amazing probiotic benefits.

So, I have my sourdough starter from which I’ve made bread, pizza and focaccia, now what? Breakfast pancakes! These are US style rather than French crepes and are fluffy and melt-in-the-mouth awesome. My beloved and I have become instant converts. This recipe is perfect for a big crowd — you can just pop one or two large pancakes into the oven to feed everyone together, rather than slaving over a hot stove making them one by one.

I like to serve them at week-ends so these vegan, sourdough, pancakes with fresh seasonal fruit get your Saturday or Sunday off to a perfect start.

Ingredients (serves 8 hungry cyclists)

Sponge

  • 265g (1 cup) sourdough starter
  • 250g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour (you can use plain, whole wheat or a mixture of half and half)
  • 1 tbsp raw sugar
  • 500ml (2 cups) almond or any non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Pancakes

  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 95g (1/4 cup) apple sauce
  • 3 chia or flax eggs (3 tbsp chia/flaxmeal whisked with 9 tbsp water)
  • 4 ripe eating apples (or equivalent in pears, plums, nectarines, peaches) sliced
  • 1 tbsp coconut nectar
  • 1 tbsp calvados or white wine
  • I vanilla pod

Method

1. Make the sourdough sponge the previous evening by mixing in a large bowl the sourdough starter with the flour, sugar, almond milk and apple cider vinegar.

2. Cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and allow the batter to stand overnight in a warm spot. In the morning, it should be puffy and visibly bubbly.

4. Before making the pancake(s), preheat the oven to 230 ̊C/210 ̊C fan/450 ̊F/gas Mark 8.

5. Add the bicarb (baking soda), applesauce and chia/flax eggs to the sourdough sponge and mix thoroughly but gently.

6. Heat an oven-safe frying pan on the hob (stovetop) add sliced fruit, coconut nectar, seeds from vanilla pod and alcohol. Cook gently until fruit softens, and all the liquid is gone. Turn off the heat and remove half of the fruit (for the second pancake) and arrange the remainder to cover bottom of the pan.

7. Pour half the pancake batter over the fruit. Immediately place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the pancake appears golden-brown and the sides are pulling away from the pan.

8. Flip the pancake upside down onto a plate and cover with aluminium foil to keep warm. Repeat the process one more time to make the second pancake.

9. Serve the pancakes warm with maple syrup or anything else your heart desires!

10. Any uneaten pancake – as if! – can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days. You can either reheat or eat cold.

The Musette: sourdough focaccia

I have an Italian girlfriend who makes the most divine focaccia. Whenever I buy some my beloved and I taste and compare it to her’s. “As good as” is as good as it has gotten.

As I’m plumbing all things sourdough, I thought I’d give sourdough focaccia a go and the results were quite surprising. It’s actually one of the easier things to make because there is no folding and no shaping. In short, it looks like: stir, long rest and rise, a short rest and rise, dimple, then bake. Then  – importantly – devour.

Making this focaccia is a two step process. First, you must prepare the sponge which helps to enrich the flavor, generate larger holes in the bread and keeps the bread light, crisp and airy. It is an incredible easy process and will significantly enhance the aroma and flavor of the bread.

While the actual time spent making the dough really isn’t much time at all, the entire process takes over 24 hours. It is absolutely necessary to prepare the sponge and let the dough rise for the recommended amount of time. Fortunately, no kneading is involved and all you need is a large bowl and spatula to prepare the dough.

Ingredients

Sponge

  • 530g (2 cups) sourdough starter
  • 125g (1 cup) whole-wheat flour
  • 250g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 500 ml (2 cups) filtered water

Focaccia dough

  • 250g (2 cups) plain all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Method

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1. If necessary, two days (or more) before you want to start the process, feed your starter each day, 60g (2 1/2 oz) each of flour and water, to build it up. You’ll need 530g (2 cups) for baking.

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a693c1db-41a9-4d0a-af8a-b54457fb50bc2. Make the overnight sponge by mixing together the sourdough, water whole wheat flour and 250g (2 cups) plain (all purpose) flour. Mix well and let it stand overnight or for eight hours, covered, in a warm place. The surface should be covered in bubbles.

3. Add the salt and olive oil and mix in the remaining flour, 50g (half a cup) at a time, until you have a fairly loose batter that just comes off the sides of the bowl but does not gather into a ball.

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4. Cover the bowl with a cling wrap and let the dough rise for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

5. Using a spatula, gently turn the dough over on itself in the bowl about 9 or 10 times, trying not to deflate too many of the lovely bubbles that have formed.

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6. Oil a large, approx. 38-40cm (15”) baking pan and pour the batter into the centre of the sheet and, using a spatula, help it along so it fills or nearly fills the pan. Brush on some olive oil to keep the batter from drying, but don’t cover it up with a towel or cling film (plastic wrap) – both will stick to the dough.

7. Leave the baking pan in a warm place for an hour or so until the dough has risen to fill the entire pan.

8. About half an hour before you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/400F/gas mark 6.

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9. Now’s the time to add any toppings and, if you feel so inclined, make the trademark dimples in the dough. Just try not to deflate it.

10. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and the bread has started to pull from the sides. One way to tell your bread is done is to press it slightly, and if it springs back, you know it’s ready.

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11. Here’s the tricky bit. Let the bread cool on a rack at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving. Now would be a good time to add further olive oil and salt to taste.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1.I prefer plain focaccia but you can add all sorts of topping: cherry tomatoes, garlic, herbs, olives, grapes, onion, cheese………..let your imagination run wild!

2. I replenish my starter with an equal weight of flour and water. For example, when I used a cup of starter for this recipe, I replaced it with an equal amount (in terms of weight) of flour and water. Thus may starter has 100% hydration. If you use the equal volume replacement method your starter will have a 166% hydration. Why does this matter? Well, if your starter has a 100% hydration you might need to use a little less flour than is listed in the recipe. Just keep that in mind when mixing the dough.

3. It’s best eaten on the day it’s baked otherwise slice it into portions and pop it into the freezer for later.