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Blueberry and apple salted caramel focaccia

September 25, 2012

Blueberry and apple salted caramel focacciaWeighing the soft flour, measuring the warm water, stirring in the little pearls of yeast, folding the smooth dough, peeping under the cloth to see a mushroom of billowing dough, shooting my spray bottle of water into the oven and hearing the hiss of steam, clearing the counter with my dough scraper,  the aroma that permeates the whole house, smearing butter onto a  slice with the memory of warmth; I like everything about bread-making except for one thing. Sticky hands.  The cloying paste clinging to my fingers in little gooey clumps makes me run for the tap. If I’m making a wet dough (which seems to give superior results) I will usually reach for the dough hook and let a machine transform the icky stuff into a silky ball.

Bertinet Bakery in Bath

The Bertinet Bakery in Bath

Richard Bertinet is stalking me. OK, I might be exaggerating but his name kept cropping up in connection with bread, then a friend brought round his book and DVD, Dough, as she thought I’d like to borrow it, then when I was in Bath I just happened upon his bread shop, shelves laden with the most tempting loaves and pastries, and finally this month’s Fresh From the Oven challenge is set by Bertinet-fan and ace baker Euan (aka Signor Biscotti) who advocates the Bertinet kneading method. I watched RB’s DVD and a video online (with one of my food heroes Tim Hayward). The dough looked sticky and they were getting their hands right in there. It was time to overcome sticky-hand-phobia and get right in.

And although the dough was a bit unwieldy to work with at first, it soon transformed into smooth, silky, dough which rose with beautiful pockets of air.  The stickiness seemed to vanish very quickly and it was easy to clean my hands by rubbing them together (as advised by RB). I might be cured of my mani appiccicose phobia!

Blueberry and apple salted caramel focaccia

Bread making takes a while – not the bits where you are actively involved, but the proving times in-between.  We think of keeping dough in a nice warm place but I find that the fridge is often my friend. When my day took an unexpected turn (“Mum are you going to stay for my band audition semi-finals?”) I put the half-proved dough in the fridge to carry on rising very slowly through the afternoon, spread it out in on the tray with the topping on and left in overnight and brought it out into the warm kitchen for just over an hour in the morning before baking.Blueberry and apple salted caramel focaccia

My family are dried fruit haters and I wanted something fresh to counteract the sweetness. I followed the original recipe with the following changes:

  • Dissolving the dried yeast in the water (blood-temperature) before adding it to the flour. We get dried active yeast here in Dubai and it’s not as forgiving as easy-blend.
  • Using all white, strong bread flour (hard to get 00 here).
  • I added a bit more water (shock horror, even stickier) as the dough looked quite dry. It could have been down to the type of flour.
  • Instead of raisins I used 75g of fresh blueberries, folded into the dough.
  • The candied peel was omitted.
  • My topping was 50g of cold, unsalted butter (in wafer thin slices), 50g of light brown sugar, a scant sprinkling of coarse sea salt (half a teaspoon-ish) and a whole apple, sliced and layered over the lot.
  • Don’t expect a hard or sticky layer on top, it’s more a caramel taste as you bite into this soft bread, the fruit bursting through the doughy sweetness. Some of the caramel seeped underneath and reminded me of a dripping cake (or dripper) – anyone in Gloucestershire remember these?

Blueberry and apple salted caramel focaccia

Teen approval (we celebrated the band making the final) and even KP gave it the thumbs up (not a breadaholic like me).  This is a truly terrific recipe and it’s got me thinking of all sorts of other combinations of ingredients to try out. Thank you Signor Biscotti for finding and translating it from the original Italian (and converting me to the RB way!).

Blueberry and apple salted caramel focaccia

As always you can admire everyone else’s version of this recipe at the end of the month here.

P.S. I’ve just got the L-plates off and I’m shooting in RAW which means I’ve had to grapple with post-production. Can’t wait for the Lightroom and post-production part of the Food Photography and Styling Workshop with Meeta in October.

  1. September 25, 2012 5:58 am

    Richard Bertinet was my very first bread guru – I used his kneading technique for years. These days I barely knead at all, but I do squelch all the dough together between my fingers, which I’m sure would make your toes curl, Sally! Lovely looking focaccia – just the title had me moaning.. 🙂

  2. September 25, 2012 8:39 am

    Gorgeous recipe and photos! Just lovely!

  3. September 25, 2012 8:43 am

    Yum, yum, yum and yum – my favourite flavours in my favourite staple – what a mouthwatering combination. This is on my to-do list this weekend. Thanks for inspiring as always Sally, and doing it in such a delightful and delicious way.

  4. September 25, 2012 9:07 am

    Sally this sounds amazing. As your know bread is a no no for me being gluten intolerant. I recently read however that the slow rising method and using natural yeast like sour dough baking, results in a bread that is considered gluten-free. I wonder what the effect of your slow rising has on the gluten? It all sounds so delicious and tempting and frustrating:) Also, just because you are shooting in RAW does not mean that you need to do more in post production. It only means that you can if you have to or want to. If you shoot in AV aperture priority mode and get your exposure right from the start you will need to do very little in addition to converting the file into a jpg. Great read as always.

  5. Shumaila permalink
    September 25, 2012 9:25 am

    Sally, this looks unbelievably yummy- i have recently got into bread making. Made white rolls from the Hairy Bikers’ recipe- they came out amazing. Baguettes didnt come out too good. Your combination looks heavenly- got all the ingredients as well so this weekend hopefully 🙂

  6. September 25, 2012 10:16 am

    A drop-dead-gorgeopus focaccia! What fabulous flavors. I bet it tastes divine.



  7. September 25, 2012 11:29 am

    I adore sweet focaccia’s and am planning to make a plum one this week. I like that you add salted caramel to boost the flavors here. I do not use a machine to make bread. When I do I take the therapeutic way and knead with my hands. I might just put away my focaccia recipe and try this version!

  8. September 25, 2012 11:49 am

    these look absolutely stunning! and I love how that bakery has displayed it’s loaves!

  9. September 25, 2012 12:02 pm

    I do not know when I should be able to participate in FFTO again. This looks fantastic. Bread making is therapuetic. how rustic and inviting the focaccia looks! Just beautiful

  10. September 25, 2012 12:26 pm

    Richard Bertinet is brilliant-can’t recommend his classes highly enough. And as for this foccaccia? It looks incredible and bet it tastes and smells even better!

  11. September 25, 2012 12:29 pm

    I would’ve never thought to do a sweet focaccia, let alone a salted caramel one but this really looks the business. Must try soon 😀

  12. jamielifesafeast permalink
    September 25, 2012 3:09 pm

    I don’t know Richard Bertinet but I am so tempted to try this recipe! I love the mix of flavors and textures and I do have a jar of salted butter caramel in my fridge. This is such a perfect autumn snack, and so beautiful. The texture of the bread itself is amazing!

  13. September 25, 2012 7:46 pm

    Your sweet foccaccia with blueberries, apples and a salted caramel sounds incredible. With real bread making, and especially foccaccia which needs quite a wet dough to create it’s characteristic non-uniform crumb texture, you have to get over the sticky hands fobia and get straight in there. Having dough, especially as it begins to dry and crust, stuck to your hands is horrible. I’ve found that if I’m really struggling to get it off my hands, dipping them into rye flour and then rubbing together ala the wonderful Bertinet will get the worst of it off. Thanks for sharing your tips on the recipe.

  14. September 25, 2012 10:23 pm

    What a magnificent version Sally, beautifully written up and photographed as usual. I particularly like the slightly bleached effect in the the first photo. And of course I am overjoyed that you have seen the light of the Bertinet Way 🙂 You seem to have taken to it like a natural. Getting stuck in with my hands is one of my principal pleasures in bread making and is why I’m not really interested in the no knead or minimal knead ways of doing it, however well they may work.

  15. September 26, 2012 12:08 am

    Wow! Looks fantastic!

  16. September 26, 2012 12:17 am

    Oh I so miss making and eating bread. Having changed our diet to wheat, low carb and no sugar to help my husband beat cholesterol is worth it to see the difference in him. I can’t wait for Christmas as I’m going to treat myself and this is a perfect bread to bring in summer.
    Interested you’ve gone to shooting raw – I have gone back to JPEG after years of fiddling in post production and just give them once over lightly instead :o)

  17. glamorous glutton permalink
    September 26, 2012 1:00 am

    I make allot of focaccia, but it’s never occurred to me to make a sweet version. Fab idea! I discovered Richard Bertinets technique last year and love using the wetter dough. Great results. GG

  18. September 26, 2012 8:04 am

    As usual your version looks lovely! I’ve got some left over dough in the fridge waiting for some inspiration 🙂

  19. September 26, 2012 5:14 pm

    Just so lovely Sally – like a painting. I wish baking was as easy for me as painting:(

  20. September 26, 2012 8:07 pm

    Beautiful.. It reminds me of the Portuguese Fogaça: traditional in the area I live in and with a form that resembles a castle.

  21. September 27, 2012 3:08 pm

    Blueberries and apple, a lovely combination and looks so delicious! Sally great that you got over your “sticky hand phobia” and tried the Bertinet way of working the dough! Love the gorgeous loaves of bread from the bakery! 🙂

  22. September 28, 2012 9:16 am

    Looks wonderful Sally..I usually make an Olive or a Sun dried tomato foccacia..didnt think a sweet one would look or turn out as lovely as this one…Would love to book mark this one for sure:))

  23. September 28, 2012 12:12 pm

    Yum. Hope you don@t mind the reblog

  24. October 1, 2012 8:15 pm

    Oh it sounds so good! I want to make bread pudding with this fococcia.

  25. October 3, 2012 11:39 am

    Very descriptive writing- loved the intro! It’s nice that you made a dessert focaccia. Looks so tempting!

  26. October 3, 2012 11:06 pm

    I love love love Richard Bertinet. I learned from his video and got lots of comments in relation to his unusual kneading technique when I did Bake Off. It’s great to a nice bit of Bon Jovi!

  27. October 6, 2012 1:25 am

    Wow what a wonderful combination of flavours. I also love bertinet and a great technique. I have made savoury foccacia but this sounds a very indulgent bake!

  28. October 6, 2012 3:38 pm

    Blueberry, apple and salted caramel together? That sounds and looks amazing. Definitely on my ‘recipes to try’ list. Have tackled pizza dough, naan, roti and bread but not focaccia. YET!
    PS. Lovely photos.

  29. October 7, 2012 11:29 pm

    Glad you found your way to Richard Bertinet’ shop in Bath! His bread making technique gets a bit of getting used to but does give excellent results-you just have to be very brave with that wet dough!!


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