LES DA CHEF’S BIL­TONG FO­CAC­CIA

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Yeast is a liv­ing or­gan­ism that re­quires sugar, warmth and mois­ture to grow. It eats sugar, farts car­bon diox­ide and pees al­co­hol. That’s it in sim­ple terms. When it re­leases car­bon diox­ide, we do our ut­most to make sure the gas does not es­cape, as this causes the dough to rise as it bakes. By knead­ing and knead­ing bread you are ac­ti­vat­ing the starch pro­teins in the flour and mak­ing them more elas­tic. The more elas­tic the dough is, the more gas it will trap … and there­fore the bread will rise softer and higher. Do not un­der­es­ti­mate the power of knead­ing bread. Do it for as long as hu­manly pos­si­ble. You get elec­tric whisks that have dough hooks for knead­ing dough, but I highly rec­om­mend you do it by hand as the heat in your hands ac­ti­vates the yeast and helps it grow.

IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

2 tea­spoons dry yeast 1 cup warm wa­ter 2 ta­ble­spoons sugar 3 1/2 to 4 cups flour 1 ta­ble­spoon coarse salt 1/4 cup olive oil Bil­tong dust or thin shav­ings Fresh rose­mary sprigs

METHOD:

Proof the yeast by com­bin­ing it with the warm wa­ter and sugar. Stir gen­tly to dis­solve. Let stand three min­utes un­til foam ap­pears. Slowly add the flour to the bowl as you mix with a wooden spoon. Dis­solve salt in 2 ta­ble­spoons of wa­ter and add it to the mix­ture. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil. When the dough starts to come to­gether, turn out on to a floured sur­face and be­gin to knead with your fists. Knead un­til the dough is smooth and elas­tic, about 10 min­utes, ad­ding flour as nec­es­sary. Add some (not all) of the bil­tong shav­ings to the dough. Turn the dough out on to a work sur­face and fold over it­self a few times. Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the en­tire ball with oil so it doesn’t form a skin. Cover with plas­tic wrap or damp towel and let rise in a warm place un­til dou­bled in size, about 45 min­utes. Coat a sheet pan with a lit­tle olive oil and mealie meal. Once the dough is dou­bled and domed, turn it out on to the counter. Roll and stretch the dough out to an ob­long shape, about 5cm thick. Lay the flat­tened dough on the pan and cover with plas­tic wrap. Let rest for 15 min­utes. Pre­heat oven to 180°C. Un­cover the dough and dim­ple with your fin­ger, and fill each dim­ple with a piece of rose­mary and bil­tong. Brush the sur­face with more olive oil and sprin­kle coarse salt over the dough, as well as more bil­tong shav­ings. Bake on the bot­tom rack for 15 to 20 min­utes. Once done, sprin­kle with a lit­tle more olive oil. I love it with tape­nade and pesto.

BIL­TONG FO­CAC­CIA

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