How to make easy, no-knead focaccia!

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This is a culinary wonder! Simply mix the ingredients and let time create your dough. No mess, no fuss. The next day, bake it and enjoy! This is one of my most popular and versatile recipes. You can use this dough to create bread and pizza too. So easy, all you need is to mix, let it rest and bake. Suits vegans and people with nut, egg and dairy allergies too.

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How to make easy, no-Knead Focaccia, serves 6

INGREDIENTS

4 cups of 00 or all purpose flour

tip of a teaspoon of dry yeast

1+1/2 cup of water at room temperature, plus a few tablespoons, as needed

2 teaspoons of salt flakes

1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling on top)

METHOD

  1. Mix together, flour, yeast and most of the water and mix with a chopstick. Don’t add all the water at once as you may not need it all, it will depend on your flour. The texture you are looking for is a very soft dough. Add salt and oil and mix with a chopstick. Cover with plastic film and allow to rise for 10-12 hours or until more than doubled in size and very bubbly. In warmer climate this will take less. FullSizeRender.jpg
  2. Preheat your oven to 220 C, 430 F. Using olied hands, gently lift the dough (it will be sticky) out of the bowl and spread it onto an oiled oven tray (or one lined with baking paper). Drizzle with oil on top, create dimples with your fingers and season with salt flakes.
  3. Bake for 25-20 minutes or until golden.
  4. Serve as it it or with thick slices of tomatoes!  IMG_0967.JPG                                                                                                                                  SUBSCRIBE to keep enjoying my recipes for free!   DAY 2 RECIPE 2.00_05_53_11.Still003                                                    Watch this recipe on my YouTube channel   DSC_4086SILVIA’S CUCINA is available in stores and online!MADE IN ITALY is available herehere   and here

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Gluten-free Ricotta Soft Buns

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Here they are, my fiends! After posting a picture of this buns on my Instagram page (@silviacollocaofficial), my inbox got flooded with messages asking for one thing and one thing only: post the recipe, Silvia! I have to say, I do love it when the image of a baking success stirs so much excitement that I cannot keep up with replying to you all. I suppose a little tease is part of the game, the more I read you trepidation, the more I am keen to improve the recipes to deliver formulas that will not fail you. And so, here it is. A recipe for gluten-free soft buns, that you can have as dinner rolls, burger buns, sandwich rolls, or simply slathered in copious amounts of butter and jam. They are truly wonderful freshly baked (although, always wait an hour before eating, they do need to cool down for the crumb to settle), but they are also quite delicious toasted the following day. I have frozen a few and the jury is still out on what they taste like (and what the texture is) once they are thawed, but I officially declare this a recipe success and I now pass it on to you.

If you are familiar with my gluten free bread (read this post here, if you aren’t), you know I use Caputo Fiore Glut GF flour, for optimal result. I have to admit I am yet to find a GF flour that delivers the same results as this one. Please note I am not commercially associated with this brand, so I can’t help you find stores that stock it, but I am confident a google search will indeed help you.

For the love of precision, I am only providing metric measurements, as I feel more confident this way.

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INGREDIENTS, makes 8 small buns

400 gr of Caputo Fiore Glut GF flour

7 gr of dry yeast

130 gr of fresh ricotta

1 tablespoon of honey

50 ml of olive oil

150 ml of water at room temperature

2 teaspoons of salt flakes

1 beaten egg to brush on top

METHOD

1. Put flour and yeast in a large bowl, add water, oil, honey and ricotta and start mixing with a wooden stick.

2. When the dough is coming together, add salt and start kneading. Tip the dough onto a floured bench and continue kneading until smooth. If it seems too sticky, add 1-2 tablespoons of flour. Similarly, if too dry, add a little water. Keep in mind that this is meant to be a soft dough.

3. Once smooth, roll into a ball, place back into your bowl. Cover with plastic film and rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours or until doubled in size.

4. Using oiled hands, lift out the dough that has risen, stretch it into a rectangle, fold each side into the middle, then roll into a ball and prove for 1 hour or until risen by 2/3.

5. Dust your bench with GF flour, stretch the dough into a rectangle, fold each side into the middle, then roll into a log. Cut the log into 8 pieces and roll them into a ball. Arrange them close together onto a tray lined with baking paper. Allow to rise for 40 minutes.

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6. Bring your oven to 200 C (390 F), conventional. Brush the buns with beaten eggs and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Each oven is different, so your baking time may be longer or slightly shorter. Cool on a rack for 1 hour before eating, to allow the crumb to cook through.

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Chia seeds Bread Rolls

One undeniable truth about being a food writer is the obsessive motivation to constantly think about recipes, ingredients and how to combine them to create something worth sharing. Testing and experiment is second nature to us, and although we all have more kitchen disasters than we care to admit, those moments when a new recipe works and we come up trumps are undoubtably worth the effort and frustration. When I test new bread recipes I get giddy with anticipation. I spend days conjuring up images of what I’d love the finished product to look like and I work backwards to create a formula to make the magic happen. For those of you familiar with my blog, it is no surprise to see me at work with doughs, I am a self-confessed bread addict. If you are new to this space…well I hope you love your carbs too! These are good carbs, by the way. The dough, which requires no kneading as such,  is fermented for a very long time and risen overnight, creating an easy to digest bread. The addition of super healthy chia seeds turns these delicious rolls into a palatable proposition to even my most resolute “I don’t eat carbs” friends. More importantly, my young children devour them with such gusto, I can barely contain my grin!

INGREDIENTS, makes 12-14

400 gr (3-3/4 cups) all purpose flour

50 gr (3 tablespoons) of rye flour

350 ml (1-1/4 cup) water at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon of dry yeast

2 teaspoons of salt

a few tablespoons of white chia seeds (you can replace with sesame seeds)

HOW TO

1. Mix flours, water and yeast together with a wooden spoon until combined.

2. Add salt and mix again. Your mixture will look and feel quite sticky. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and let it prove for 10/14 hours, or until it’s grown three times bigger and looks bubbly. The dough should feel quite wet, almost like a thick batter.

3. Line a muffin tin with baking paper to fit each hole. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of mixture onto each hole. Top with chia seeds and allow to rise for 1 hour.

4. Turn the oven to 220 C (430 F).

5. Place the tin in the oven, bake for 10 minutes then reduce the temperature to 200 C (395 F) and bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until the rolls are golden and well risen. Remove the baking paper and allow to cool on a wire rack. They are best eaten 1 hour after baking.

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Beer and Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Flat Bread (Pizza Scima alla Birra)

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It has become a tradition now to kick off the new year with a bread-dedicated post. After all, I am a self-confessed avid baker (read “bread-baking addict”) and very little else elevates my culinary spirit to blissful excitement more than kneading, beating and shaping a starchy good. I have spent the last couple of weeks back home, visiting family and gorging on love, food and wine and I have been  inspired to fight the seasonal sense of laziness and get back into the kitchen (my mum’s, to be precise, as I am still in Milan), after trying a truly wonderful flat bread at Agriturismo Troilo, in Colle Zingaro, in the Abruzzo region (pictured at the bottom of the page), a few miles away from when my mum is from. Antonina, the talented home-cook who runs the place with grace and a true respect to the authenticity of regional food, didn’t shy away from giving me her recipe, which required 4 ingredients only: oil (good, local EVOO), OO flour, water and salt. The right ratio of those humble ingredients, provides a flaky, pastry-like dough, that crumbles in your mouth as you blissfully stuff it with morsels of home-made salami all happily washed down with a drop of Moltepulciano. It is similar to the recipe Signora Matilde once gave me (which I posted here), and just as good. Those Abruzzese women are a treasure trove of home-cooking secrets and it is vital to pass them on to make sure they are available to the generations to follow.

I have adapted Antonina’s recipes, using beer instead of water, for a slightly more robust flavor and to allow the natural yeast in beer to rise the bread slightly in the oven. Also, I have used a locally produced EVOO, so rich and intense its color is a vibrant hue of emerald green.

Ingredients (serves 4)

2-1/2 cups of OO flour (or plain flour)+ some for heading the dough

3/4 cup of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (I know, it’s a little extravagant, but it will impart the bread the most beautiful flavor. I wouldn’t advise replacing it for vegetable oil)

a little less than 3/4 cup of beer

1-1/2 teaspoons of salt

How To

Combine flour, oil, beer and salt in a bowl, and mix with a spoon until a dough forms. Knead the dough onto  floured surface for 3-4 minutes until soft nd smooth.

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It should be pliable and a little softer than egg-pasta dough. If it feels too sticky add a little extra flour. If too dry, add a little extra beer.

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Oil a baking dish and flatten the dough onto it. Score the dough with a pastry cutter to create a criss-cross pattern.

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Once the bread is baked and slightly cooled, the scoring will make it easier to cut in chunks. Bake at 200 C (395 F), conventional oven, for 30-35 minutes or until the top is bronzed and crunchy.

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Cool at room temperature for 10-15 minutes, then carefully lift out of the baking dish, break up into chunks and serve with cold cuts of meat and cheese for the ultimate antipasto.

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Frittelle, Italian savoury donuts

No matter how loudly nutritionists will speak against deep-fried food, I do allow myself and my children the occasional indulgence. I fiercely stand by my credo that “once in a while” will do you no harm, and, quite frankly, if it makes you happy when you eat it, than it’s got to be good for you! In moderation, that is…

When we were children, my mamma used to apply pretty much the same rule, and her home-cooking was predominantly healthy and very nutritious. So, on special occasions, if we’d been really, really good, she would set off in the kitchen to fry off these delicious, golden nuggets, while we, children and Papà, would patiently wait, slowly inebriated by the savory and warm smell of what was to be our Sunday dinner.

The memory alone is worth the occasional intake of deep-fried food…

These savoury donuts, frittelle, are made using a slowly fermented pizza dough. You can make them using a larger amount of yeast and less rising time, but I have to warn you that they won’t be as light, crispy and easy to digest.

To make the dough, simply follow the same steps as if you were making pizza dough.

Ingredients for the dough

3 1/2 cups  00 type flour (or plain)

1/2 cup  wholemeal flour

1 teaspoon of dry yeast

1-1/4 cup  lukewarm water

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

2 teaspoons of salt flakes

Extra-virgin olive oil, to grease the bowl and to drizzle on top.

How to

Dissolve yeast and sugar in water. Stand for 5 minutes or until frothy.

Place flour in a large mixing  bowl, add the yeasted water and mix for 1-2 minutes, then tip the dough onto a floured surface, add the salt and knead vigorously for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Shape it into a ball.

As all flours tend to differ slightly, you may have to add a little more water of a little more flour in order to have the perfect dough. You want a soft, pliable dough, but not too sticky.

Rest the dough in an oiled bowl, covered with a tea-towel for 30 minutes, then lift it out, place it back onto a floured surface, stretch it with your hands and fold it into three and then back into a ball. Put the dough back in the bowl to rest for another 30 minutes, then stretch and fold again.

As tedious as this process sounds, this is paramount for obtaining a light, crispy and easy to digest base.

After the second stretch-and-fold, place the dough in a large oiled container fitted with  lid (like a Tupperware one). Place in the fridge (with the lid on) and slow-prove for a minimum of 6 hours, up to 36 hours.

When you are ready to make you pizza, take the dough out of the fridge and place it in an oiled bowl and cover it with a tea-towel. Rest at room temperature for 30-45 minutes.

Roll the dough onto a floured surface to 1/2 cm  (0,2 inches) thick.

Cut the dough into rectangles and score each in the middle to allow even rising when fried.

Fill a deep-fryer or a frying own with vegetable oil and. To test of the oil temperature is ready, drop in a cube of bread: if it sizzles straight away and turns golden in 30 seconds, the oil is ready. Fry the cut dough in 3-4 batches,  2-3 minutes on both sides.

Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt flakes and serve hot with cold cuts of meat, torn mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes or whatever takes your fancy.

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Panini alle Olive (Olive and Rosemary bread rolls, made in a food processor)

Happy 2012 to all!

Given my self-confessed obsession for yeasted baked goods, it only makes sense that the first post of the year is -yet another- bread recipe. I have been experimenting with doughs and flours and I really wanted to offer you an alternative to hand or machine kneading, and it turns out that some breads can be mixed in a food processor! No hard work+no floury mess= amazingly good bread rolls with a soft, moist crumb.

Ingredients

1x 7gr (0,2 oz) sachet of dry yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup lukewarm water

1/2 cup water

1/4 extra virgin olive oil

500 gr (3-3/4 cup) all purpose flour (or Italian 00 flour)

1-2 rosemary sprig

2 teaspoons salt

2 handfuls of pitted olives

How to

1. Stir the dry yeast in lukewarm water. Stand for 10 minutes until the liquid appears slightly creamy, than add1/2 cup of water and oil

2. Place  flour, a scant handful of rosemary springs and  salt in a food processor fitted with a sharp blade, cover with the lid and pulse a few times to combine the flour with the salt. Gradually add the yeast+olive oil liquid until it starts to combine. At this stage the dough will look quite dry. Don’t be tempted to add water or oil as the olives you are about to scatter through it will add a lot of moisture.

3. Sprinkle in the olives (I used green Sicilian and black Ligurian olives) and pulse until the dough starts to gather into a slightly sticky ball. If you think your dough it too wet, you can sprinkle a little extra flour. Likewise, if your dough isn’t moist enough, add a table-spoon of water or another couple of olives.

4. When the dough easily detaches from the sides of the bowl, take it out, dust it with a little flour, shape it into a ball and leave it to rest, well covered, until it doubles in size. In warm weather this will take 1 1/2  to 2 hours, allow a little longer if  it’s cold.

5. Cut the dough into 8 pieces, shape them into balls and place them to prove on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Be sure to allow some room for the rolls to grow. You can use this dough to bake loaves as well, as pictured below.

6. Allow to rise for a further hour. In the meantime bring your oven to 200 Celsius (390 Farenheit). Bake your rolls for about 20 minutes or until they look slightly golden and sound hollow when tapped with your fingers.

Serve with pecorino and salame or simply devour them as there are…

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Grissini (Italian Breadsticks)

Grissini have become very popular world-wide and there are plenty of varieties offered on the market, but they hardly compare to the fragrant crispness of home-made ones. Their irregular, gnarly shape and sun-burnt colour are the promise of something delicious. They look so inviting, they must be good for you!

They are far from complicated to make at home and they are a lovely activity to share with an inquisitive child,

Yesterday I kept my little boy home from kindy and together we rolled grissini, we baked them for 10 minutes and devoured them with Pecorino shavings.

Ingredients

400 gr (3 -1/4 cups) 00 flour (or plain)

50 gr  (1/4 cup) wholemeal flour (or spelt/rye)

1×7 gr  (1 1/2 tablespoons) sachet dry yeast

280 (1 -1/4 cup) ml lukewarm water

2 teaspoons salt

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Rosemary or sesame seeds

How to

Dissolve yeast in water and set aside for 5 minutes.

Put th eflour into a large bowl, add the liquid and knead vigorously for 3-4  minutes. Add the salt and knead for another 4-5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and can be shaped into a silky ball.

Rest the dough , well covered with a tea towel for 20 minutes.

Take the dough stretch it with your hands to shape a rectangle, fold it into three then shape back into a ball. Leave to rest in an oiled bowl, covered with a tea towel for 1- 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Preheat your over to 200 C (390 F)

Take the dough, knock the air out, shape into a log and cut it into 20 pieces.

Roll each piece in a snake-like shape. Place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper, making sure you allow some room as they will rise a bit more whilst baking.

You can season and decorate them with sesame seeds, finely chopped rosemary and salt, or whatever takes your fancy.

Let them prove again for 20 minutes, and bake  until they look tanned and they smell irresistible!

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