A play on my traditional grissini, tweaked into a festive shape and covered with any toppings you choose, though here I have used hemp seeds, poppy seeds and parmesan.
Use a fine milled flour, an 00 grade if possible such as Murino Molina fromBakery Bits (which is what I used here) or plain white flour or bread flour for brioche. At a pinch, any strong white bread flour will work if you can’t get a fine flour, but it won’t give you the ultimate crisp snap of a proper grissino.
Stand mixer with dough hook attachment – if not kneading by hand
Pizza cutter, bread scraper or long sharp knife (non-serrated)
Baking trays, lined
300g tipo 00, fine plain or other white flour (see notes above)
4 g fast acting dried yeast
2/3 teaspoon of fine salt
4-5 turns of a pepper mill
15mg olive oil
195g tepid water
Added ingredients of your choice, but I used:
poppy seeds (1-2 tablespoons)
hemp seeds (1-2 tablespoons)
grated parmesan (about 10g)
An egg, whisked and used as a wash
Additional flour, for dusting the surface as required
Mix all the ingredients together into a scruffy mess and leave for 10 minutes
Tip out and knead for 8 – 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and glossy or mix it in your stand mixer
Leave the dough to rest in a lightly oiled bowl, covered with a tea towel or cling film until about doubled in size (if using continental flour it is likely to just rise by about another 50% instead). This could be anything between 30 – 90 minutes depending on the ambient temperature
In the meantime, grate the parmesan and ready your seeds/flavourings
When the dough is ready, lightly flour a surface and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into as precise a rectangle as possible (any wobbly sides will need to be trimmed off)
Cut strips from the dough, each about 1 cm thick – cut along the short edge
Have the paper-lined baking sheets to hand
Roll each of the strips lightly, so they form tubes rather than ribbons. Try not to stretch them too much (it will be easy to roll them on a less floured surface)
Form a five pointed star with each strip of dough and pinch the two edges together at an end point:
Complete stars with all the dough
Cover and leave to rise again – for about 20-30 minutes until puffed up (they probably won’t double in size)
Set the oven on to 200C fan / 220C conventional
Paint an egg wash on each of the dough stars and sprinkle (or grate!) your favoured toppings on. I did a third of the stars in poppy seeds, a third in hemp seeds and the final third with grated parmesan
Bake for about 17-18 minutes until a nice golden colour (under the toppings)
Turn off the oven and leave for a further 5 minutes so they are crisp with a nice ‘snap’ when cooled and ready to eat
Wonderful dipped in a little butter, hummus, salsa or to scoop up fondue or baked camembert
I love a panettone at Christmas, but sometimes those large ones are just too large. You need a lot of family and friends round to get through it before it goes stale. These little muffin-sized panettone (or more correctly, panettoncini) are sometimes a better option, are delightfully cute and are also great as little individual bake-and-share Christmas gifts.
What’s extra handy with these (although this does degrade their quality a little) is that they can be frozen and brought out of the freezer to defrost at room temperature for half a day/overnight. So you can bake a batch in advance and defrost a few at a time.
Bake in muffin cases, or proper panettoncini paper cases are available. I purchase mine from Bakery Bits (they also have the large cases).
Traditionally, the large, full-size panettone need to be cooled while being hung upside down (skewers are in seated across the base to hang it). This stops the domed top from deflating. You do NOT need to do this with the panettoncini: they can cool in their cases standing up.
This is a wet dough – you can knead it by hand successfully, but it is so very messy! Simpler to use a stand mixer or food processor for this.
10-12 cases (see notes)
Stand mixer or bread machine on dough setting ideally. Or large bowl
Scales, measuring spoons, knife, pastry brush
Small jug or bowl
1 teaspoon of dried, fast acting yeast
80ml milk, warmed to body temperature
400g Tipo 00 or plain flour (not bread flour)
2 teaspoons of (a good quality) dark cocoa powder
2 medium eggs
Seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla powder
120g golden caster sugar or light brown sugar
50g of softened unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon of fine salt
75g dark chocolate, cut into chunks
3 tablespoons of honey
40-50g pearl sugar
Warm the milk to about body temperature and whisk the yeast gently into it. Leave for 10 minutes until it begins to froth
In a bowl (if you are hand kneading) or into your mixer bowl add: flour, cocoa powder, eggs, vanilla, sugar, butter, salt and water and then also tip in the milk/yeast mixture
Knead for 10 minutes in your stand mixer until the dough becomes smooth and glossy and still very soft. (If kneading by hand, tip out on to a counter and work for about 14 minutes. It will be tough and messy going but it will eventually come together)
At this point add in the chocolate chunks and the pistachios
Leave in the bowl, covered with a clean tea towel, to rise for about 60-75 minutes. It will rise somewhere around half as much again (it won’t fully double in size)
After the dough has risen, liberally flour a work surface and tip the dough out in to it
Roll the dough out into a rectangle and (this isn’t strictly traditional but I find it works). Roughly about 40 x 70cm but it’s more important to get a standard thickness than a “correct” size. Roll the dough up using the longest edge into a long Swiss roll shape
Place all your panettoncini cases out on to a baking tray, so they’re ready
Chop the roll of dough into twelve or thirteen equal fat discs and gently roll each one into more of a ball shape. As a guide the dough pieces should be roughly 80g each
Lightly roll each piece into a ball and then pop it into a case, with the smoothest side upwards
Leave to rise for 20-30 minutes, covered with a clean cloth
While they are rising for the final time, turn the oven on to 200 C fan oven or 220C conventional oven
Bake for about 20-23 minutes. You can test with a skewer as you would with a cake
Leave to cool upright in the cases
Warm the honey (unless using a very runny honey)
Brush the tops of the panettoncini with the honey and sprinkle on the pearl sugar
One last thing, should you have any left over, panettone makes an awesome bread and butter-style dessert.
While you can use almost any ‘standard’ bread recipe with a glug of olive oil to make pizza or garlic bread, with a little extra effort you can create a pizza base that’s really special.
You may think that it’s a bit pointless to make a tasty pizza base, given that most people drown their pizzas in toppings. However, this makes awesome garlic bread and if you use restraint with your pizza toppings, making something more classic Italian than loaded American-style, you’ll definitely notice the difference.
So, while I use a little added sourdough starter in this to add a tang and help with the rise (as I reduce the amount of dried yeast used) you can just use all dried yeast if you do not maintain any wild yeast yourself. The wild yeast does, hand on heart, truly make a difference to the taste but its still quite a nice dough with just 100% fast acting dried yeast, and I’ll indicate the swap in the recipe.
For this recipe I have also produced a YouTube video, in which I go on to cook two garlic breads. I have included the additional garlic bread recipe below, after the dough recipe.
As ever, do please leave a comment if you’ve made this or ask me any questions about it – I’m happy to answer recipe and technique questions.
Video – the full recipe and instructions for this!
Makes two 12 inch pizza/garlic bread bases
If you can’t get hold of Italian tipo 00 flour use half plain flour (‘all purpose’ flour in the US) and half strong white bread flour.
If you don’t make sourdough bread and therefore don’t have a yeast starter culture, use 7g of dried fast acting yeast (instead of the wild yeast + dried yeast).
Don’t substitute dried herbs in this – fresh herbs make such a difference here and also look amazing through the dough.
If you have those pizza trays with the punched holes in, to crisp the base as it cooks, you will need to line them with baking paper first. I use these trays and you cannot rest the pizza dough for the second proof in them without a baking paper insert: the dough will sag through the holes, so do prepare them. Solid pizza trays, baking stones and baking trays will only need a light dusting of flour or semolina.
Equipment – for the dough
Large mixing bowl
Pizza trays or large baking trays
Scales, measuring cups and spoons, sharp knife
Something to cover the bowl (a shower cap, a clean tea towel, cling film etc)
Dough scraper or large knife
Equipment – for the garlic bread
A mandolin is useful, although not necessary
Small bowl, spoon
Ingredients – for the dough
435g of tipo 00 flour (see notes above)
4g of fast acting dried yeast
1 large teaspoon of wild yeast starter culture (see notes above)
10g fine salt
Handful of fresh herbs (I’ve used rosemary, flat leaf parsley, curly parsley, broad leaf thyme – but you can use whatever herb/s you like or have available)
1 tablespoon of good quality extra virgin olive oil – I’ve used Filippo Berio here
255ml of tepid water
A little extra of the olive oil for the kneaded dough
Ingredients – for the garlic breads
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature or lightly softened
Half a teaspoon of rock salt
Two tablespoons of fresh herbs (I used parsley and basil)
Half a ball of mozzarella, finely chopped
Two or three garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
One large waxy potato (such as Jersey Royal or Charlotte), very finely sliced
Mix the flour, dried yeast, wild yeast starter culture (if using), salt, olive oil, herbs and water into a rough scraggy mess in your large bowl
You can use a fork, a dough whisk or your fingers – make sure all the bits of dough stuck to fingers or implements are put back in the bowl
Cover the bowl – using a tea bowl, cling film, a shower cap etc
Leave for 20 to 30 minutes
Tip out the dough onto a clean surface and knead for about 6-8 minutes, until the dough becomes glossier and smoother. You should not require any additional flour for your surface (if you feel you must use some, please use as little as possible)
When the dough becomes glossy and smooth, oil your palms a little and work it into the dough for the last couple of kneading movements and for shaping the dough into a ball
A final little olive oil on the hands is required to rub the shaped dough, so that it does not stick when rising. Turn the dough back into your bowl, so the seam side is facing upwards
Cover again, and proof for up to 1 hour [30 minutes in very hot conditions, to 60 minutes for cooler]
Please note that because you are not using traditional bread dough, this dough does not rise much during either proofing stage
After the dough’s first proofing and resting stage, have your pizza trays ready – see notes above for preparation
Tip out the dough onto you clean surface and chop in half (you can weight it out exactly if you prefer)
Start shaping the dough with your hands and move on to using a rolling pin once you’ve stretched the dough out. Flip the dough over at least once to work the other side while shaping. Stretch and roll the dough to fit your pizza tray; as mentioned, this will make two 12 inch circular pizzas
It’s likely that you will not require any additional flour while shaping, not even for the rolling pin. However, should it really stick, use as minimal an amount of flour as possible on the table and rolling pin
Once each pizza base is prepared, lay them on your prepared pizza trays
Cover the dough and rest for 30 – 60 minutes (depending on how hot your environment is: 30 minutes for a very hot day, 45 for a typical home environment and 60 minutes if it’s cool)
Again, do note that the dough won’t have risen much due to the type of flour used
While the dough is proofing, heat your oven to 240 C fan or 260 C convention (top and bottom heat)
If you are making the garlic breads (or are going on to make pizzas), prepare your ingredients and toppings now. For the garlic breads:
Mix the herbs, salt, garlic and butter together. Chop the mozzarella up finely and slice the potato as thinly as you can (this is where a mandolin slicer would come in handy if you have one) – keep these separated
After this final proofing stage, slather half of the garlic butter on each dough base, leaving a 2cm/1 inch rim around the edge
On one dough base, layer over the sliced potato and on the other sprinkle over the chopped mozzarella
Bake in the oven for 14 minutes. The crust should be puffed up and brown and the garlic butter bubbling. On the potato garlic bread the sliced potatoes will be cooked and starting to crisp at the edges, on the cheesey garlic bread, the mozzarella will be fairly liquified but starting to brown
Serve immediately, although it can be eaten cooled
I’ve shied away from writing a lot of pasta recipes and posts, apart from the What pasta tools do you really need parts one and two. Silly really. I thought when I started this website that I wanted to show that I had a breadth of food skills, not just the pasta and bread that I was most known for. I have been making pasta (and bread) by hand at home for over 30 years now, so I’m fairly experienced and perhaps I’m rather overdue writing more pasta posts and recipes!
I’ve adapted this post to give considerations and alternatives during this time of lockdown.
For me, pasta dough is less “recipe” and more “formula”. There are two basic formulas: one for egg dough and one for eggless (just flour and water). Both these then are adaptable for different flours, different amounts of egg/yolk, mixes of flours and other ingredients.
This post only focuses on an egg dough. This produces an elastic and high protein/gluten pasta. Use this as your basis to get used to making fresh egg pasta dough and then move on to create and experiment with variations. This dough can be stretched very thin while remaining strong, so it’s perfect for pasta ripiena (filled pasta such as like ravioli) or long ribbons and straw shapes (as they won’t tear or break under their own weight). In short, using an egg dough gives you a lot of options for making pasta at home.
An addition on 4th June: I’ve completed a YouTube video on making egg dough to accompany this recipe:
Notes on flour
You ideally* want to use an ultra-refined white (soft) wheat flour for this base egg dough recipe. You can go on to play around with different wheat species and gluten free flours later, but for the purposes of this ‘base formula’ we’re sticking to the fundamental recipe.
There are various methods of grading flour. Flours can be coarse grained (uses the wholegrain including bran from the wheat grain) to those that are very finely milled (only using the endosperm: the whitest, finest part of the grain). You need a finely milled flour for fine pasta – the finer the milling the smoother the pasta. I’ve planned a blog post on flour, which I hope to post soon.
In these times of lockdown and flour and egg shortages you can be adaptable. Yes, as mentioned *ideally you want to produce the best pasta which does call for finely milled flour, but you can make good pasta at home with plain flour or strong white bread flour. Plain flour will make slightly softer, limper pasta but cook it for a little less time. Bread flour is course and a bit chewy, but with a robust sauce you’ll barely notice.
It’s been relatively easy (up to the COVID-19 crisis when all flours now seem difficult to come by) to find flours labelled ‘Tipo 00’ in the UK. Even McDougall’s sells packets of 00 flour in high street supermarkets. See my resources page for links to online suppliers – Shipton Mill, Bakery Bits, Melbury and Appleton, Sous Chef and more all ship Italian flours.
It all depends on the size of eggs you have available but try to use large eggs. Roughly 100g of flour = one main course portion.
100g of flour + 1 large egg
Alternatively, if you have medium or small eggs:
90-92g of flour + 1 medium egg
100g of flour + 1 small egg + 1/2 egg yolk. This ratio makes sense when you are making for two or four people, such as 200g flour + 2 small eggs + 1 egg yolk
No eggs or few eggs? It’s been hard to get eggs hasn’t it? So a few tips on eggs in pasta for lockdown:
If you’ve got one or two eggs left and need to make more than two portions replace the missing eggs with 50g of water, that is for each 100g flour use 50g water instead of an egg. For example, you want to make 5 portions and have 2 eggs, use 500g of flour + 2 eggs + 150g water
I don’t really advise this but you ‘can’ make something with part white flour and part semolina flour with water but so note it’s best to let it air dry before using to stop it going gluey. It’s not that great and if you have some semolina flour its much better to make it wholly with that, which is semola dough (see below1). A way round using plain flour with no egg is to add gluten powder2. I’d advise you to not make just flour and water “pasta” (a famous chef has recently mooted this idea) as it’s really not good and has a tendency to dissolve. I did try making it to see – ugghhh. If you’re in that dire a food situation you’re contemplating plain flour + water dough, I’d say stop and make something else. You’re ruining the experience and taste of homemade pasta and you’ll put yourself off. Better to try and get hold of dried pasta, wait til you can get some eggs or make semola dough1. Or just leave off the pasta making and choose something else for a while.
1If you don’t have eggs the ideal things to do is make a semola/eggless pasta dough, typical of southern Italy and Liguria (I will write this up soon) as semola (fine durum wheat flour) has a high protein content which negates the need for eggs. This pasta is fabulous and is the basis of most dried pasta you can buy.
2Gluten powder can be purchased from online bakery suppliers, such as Bakery Bits (see my resource section).
Notes on amounts
I have to add here that 100g for a person is on the large side of what is a single serving – this is fine if the pasta is the majority part of a main meal or people are very hungry! It’s too much if there are a lot of other ingredients as well as the pasta, say for lasagne or spaghetti with meatballs. It’s certainly too much for a starter, so consider your total amounts. For me, about 90g per person is ideal for a main and about 65g for a starter.
Working the dough
It’s easiest to work with at least a 200g dough. Any less is really a lot of effort and time for a tiny amount of food – better to make more that you need and freeze half, see below3.
Pasta dough should be fairly hard work – you need your upper body strength when working by hand. If it’s too easy, there’s not enough flour in it. Likewise, if it’s really ridiculously tough then there’s not enough egg/liquid. To work the dough, transfer the whole force from your shoulder down through your arm to the heel of your hand into the dough. Be rough with it!
Unless you’ve mis-measured or your large egg is really extra-large, all the egg should mix with all the dough. Have you seen those pasta videos or instructions that say discard the extra flour?! There should be no extra flour: it should all mix in with enough force if you’ve weight and prepared properly.
Resting the dough
After kneading, cover the dough (linen cloth, cling film, beeswax wrap, bag etc) and put somewhere cool. It doesn’t have to be a fridge unless it’s a very hot, dry day. But do over all of it, if there are air gaps you’ll get a crust.
Rest for at least 30 minutes.
Making in advance
3 If you want to make egg pasta dough way in advance, then freeze your dough. This does deteriorate the dough a little (in comparison to using it just-made). I find it defrosts better if you cut up the dough into chunks, rather than freeze the large ball of dough. You can also make your pasta shapes and freeze them.
You can make it the day before and leave in the fridge (as it’s raw egg, then I don’t advice leaving it for longer than 24 hours).
Make by hand and you’ll need to knead for up to 10 minutes. Stick the ingredients in a STURDY food processor and it will take but a couple of minutes. Please note do check your food processor manual before making pasta dough in it – most cannot cope with the density of pasta dough and may break!
For me, I always hand mix apart from a couple of highly coloured vegetables doughs which may stain my table. As you get more used to pasta making and stronger arms it will take less time – I can knead dough in just a few minutes now.
Measure out the right amount of Tip 00 flour and tip onto a table
Make a well in the middle, so it looks like a volcano crater
Tip the eggs into the middle (you can crack them straight in here – I usually do as eggs are reliable nowadays – or you can crack them into a bowl first if you’re worried about adding a gone-off egg)
Use the tips of you fingers with your lead hand, in a circular motion to mix the eggs gradually into the flour, working slowly outwards through the ring of flour – go anti clockwise if you are right handed and clockwise if you are left handed
Steady the ring/crater of flour with your other hand, so that it doesn’t collapse and your egg runs off across the table
Slowly incorporate the flour into the egg by dragging a little in from the ‘crater’ with each hand rotation
Once the flour and egg have been combined, start kneading the dough
The dough will naturally take up the correct amount of flour for the eggs you have – it shouldn’t leave any ‘spare’ flour on your work surface (though don’t panic if you really can’t work it all in. The reason for this may be a small egg or just not being used to working the dough hard enough)
Should the flour be taken up very quickly by the egg (maybe larger than average eggs or you’re in high humidity etc), then flick a little more flour onto the table to continue kneading it in
The dough should be difficult but not be very dry: it should not crack or crumble when kneading. It is tricky, but not impossible to add more liquid to a dry dough. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to wet your hands (flick off the excess) and knead this in. Once tricky thing about this is if you are working on a slightly slippery surface it’s difficult to knead a dough with a wet exterior – working on wood helps this (the grain acts as a grip)
A guide for dryness/stickiness of dough is that if you are going to use a pasta machine to produce sheets (sfoglie) it’s better to have a dryer dough and if you are making handmade shapes (such as orecchiette or trofie) then slightly more pliable is best
Kneading pasta dough is much tougher than kneading bread dough but it s similar technique. To start with, the dough will be very tough to manipulate. If you find it too tricky, try putting the heel of your palm on the dough (as normal) but lean into the dough with the whole weight from your upper body by leaning in to it right from your shoulder, through your arm and down to your hand. As you knead the dough will become more elastic and easier to manipulate
Knead with your palm to spread the dough out away from you, then roll the dough back with your other hand. Turn or flip over the dough and continue
You will have to knead for about 10 minutes as someone new to pasta (although if you’re very strong you’re at an advantage and may be quicker). You’ll get faster as you get more practiced and stronger
The dough is ready when it has a slightly shinier and smoother surface and is more easy to stretch and knead
Another way to tell is by gently making an indentation in the dough surface with a finger – the dough will slowly spring back (though pasta dough never will fill in the indentation completely)
Round the dough off into a ball and cover it – your choice of linen, wrap, a bag or whatever – just ensure that it’s covered or the surface will start to dry out and crack
Any cool-ish, area out of the sun or the top of the fridge will be fine to rest your dough (though if your kitchen is very warm then it really should go in the fridge and, also please note the next point because of raw eggs)
Leave the dough to rest for 30 minutes ideally. It can be left for a day in a fridge (don’t leave it out of the fridge longer than the 30 minutes because of the raw egg involved)
After the dough is rested it’s ready to use in your preferred recipe
If you have a question for me please do leave one below, or a nice comment! Thank you
Instructions and visual steps on how to make egg pasta dough, including tips and help on creating pasta when ingredients are hard to come by
Gnocchi are gorgeous, pillowy-soft little morsels. They’re made with potato and flour so are the carbohydrate part of your dish. You can make them without the egg (then making them vegan) but in my trials I do think they benefit from the addition of the protein for their structure.
For me gnocchi are a great additional to your cooking repertoire, as they are another carbohydrate type for your meal and provide yet another choice in cooking potatoes.
Some say these are pasta. They’re certainly a pasta shape and there are some regional pastas, such as rascatielli from Puglia, that have potato in them but potato in a pasta shape is usually just a proportion in comparison with the flour. In gnocchi the potato is the majority ingredient. Whatever your thinking on this (could this be the next jam or cream on scones first debate!?) they’re certainly an excellent source of carbohydrate and a real change from other methods of cooking potatoes or using pasta in a dish.
During this time of lockdown cooking and being frugal with what you have, it may seem wasteful that you are using additional flour and egg, rather than just cooking baked potatoes. However, it does make the potatoes go much further as not only does it add to the whole ingredients, it also helps the potatoes fluff up a little. Nutritionally, it adds protein and further carbohydrate too. Also consider that baked potatoes are rarely eaten without butter and mash can have butter, milk or cream and/or cheese added to it.
Enough for four people.
It’s difficult to halve this recipe as it has an entire egg in it, but you can make all the gnocchi and then freeze half:
❄️ Freezing tips – Freeze the gnocchi in one layer on a tray, not bunched up together. when frozen they can then be placed in a bag or tub together. Do not thaw – just use them straight from the freezer (if you thaw them first they will go mushy)
Cooking time: Takes about 1 hour 40 minutes, however there’s only about 30 minutes of activity! 1 hr 10 of this is just the potatoes baking in the oven
Serve with any sauce or ragu that you would make for pasta. Goes particularly well with cheese or rich tomato sauces. Also you can just fry them off in herbed oil as a cicchetto (Italian tapa).
A large bowl
Sharp small knife
A couple of clean tea towels
Butter pats, garganelli board or a fork with long tynes (not essential but used to give the ridges)
Pastry cutter, sharp large knife or a sturdy fork (Don’t use a masher)
To cook – either:
Large frying pan (skillet) and olive oil, with a slotted spatula or;
Large saucepan with boiling salted water and a sieve/scoop
Ingredients – gnocchi
1 kg of Maris piper or similar potatoes
1 medium egg
200g flour (ideally 00 type but normal plain flour will do, and you can substitute cornflour or other gluten free flour if you prefer)
5 g Salt
Extra flour for dusting
Turn your oven on to 180C fan / 200C conventional (this is about gas mark 3)
Finely dice the shallots, garlic and celery and fry gently in a little oil in the casserole dish or sauté pan. Put the lid on and leave at a low heat for about 10 minutes
Put the potatoes on a baking tray and put them in the oven. Pierce the skin once or twice on each potato. It is crucial that you do oil the potatoes – you need to dry them out. Set the timer for one hour
After an hour has elapsed since you put the potatoes in the oven, it is now time to get them out: they should be nice and crispy
Cut each potato in half and allow the steam to escape for a few minutes
Scoop the potato flesh out from each skin into a bowl – you might find it helpful to hold them with a tea towel as they’ll still be hot
Once you’ve got all the flesh, chop the potatoes up with a knife or pastry cutter. You can also use a fork. Stay away from using a potato masher as it’s easy to over use and the starch in the potatoes can get over worked and become very glutinous – this will ruin the gnocchi
Add in the flour and the salt and ‘chop’ it into the dough
Add in the egg now, and cut it in to the dough immediately (or you may get pieces of cooked egg)
Bring it all together now with your hands – it should be firm but yielding. If it’s very sticky work in a little more dough (again ‘cut’ the flour into it, rather than kneading)
Dust some flour on the counter and cut off a handful-sized piece of dough. Roll it out into a sausage about 15 mm or roughly the same thickness as your thumb. Doesn’t need to be exact
Cut discs off the roll that are also around 15mm long with a sharp, small knife
Roll these pieces of dough over the flour (on your board) as you cut them to coat them a little. Repeat with all of the potato dough until you have made gnocchi with all of it
You can now leave them as they are (see note below about placing them apart) or, if you have a garganelli board or a butter pat, you can roll the gnocchi down it to create ridges. You can also roll them down the tunes of a fork. Ridging the gnocchi does take extra time and your gnocchi will be fine plain, the ridges are there to help hold on to the sauce
To ridge a gnocco, place it on the board and place your fingers on top of it, about where your top knuckle is. Drag the gnocco towards you down the board with medium pressure until it reaches your fingertips. It will have rolled along, getting marked with the ridges
When you have made each gnocco place it down on a clean tea towel or a lightly floured board and try not to let the gnocchi touch each other as you continue to use all the dougCooking
I’m going to instruct you in both ways I cook my gnocchi – you can chose to fry/sauté them or boil them.
Frying makes them slightly crispier and you can cook them in advance and keep them warm while you cook the sauce.
Boiling is more typical, it’s quicker and results in fluffy gnocchi but your sauce needs to be ready when your gnocchi are
Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large frying pan (skillet). Place batches of the gnocchi in the oil, gently and try to make sure they don’t stick together (separate any that are stuck with your spatula)
Toss or flip the gnocchi in the oil until lightly browned and transfer to an oven proof dish. Keep warm in the oven until time to use
Bring salted water in your largest saucepan to the boil. You may need to do this in two or three batches so you can get the gnocchi out quick enough before they go mushy
Let the gnocchi roll around in the boiling water for a couple of minutes: they don’t take long. The gnocchi will have sunk to the bottom when you first put them in: when they are ready they pop up to the surface and float (self timing food: what’s not to love!)
These are my gorgeous, tangy flatbreads but they do take some commitment as they are fully sourdough, with a pre-ferment stage.
I’ve been making sourdough since 2001… I was already making bread by hand for many, many years before this, but started as my twin baby sons began weaning. I was a little obsessed with making everything as naturally as possible for them; as they had been very premature I was trying to do my best nutritionally. I don’t often post sourdough recipes, despite how long I’ve been making bread with wild yeast starters. This is because there are plenty of resources out there and there are a few ‘formulas’ for sourdough that can be learnt and used repeatedly and then adapted at home, why add another to confuse people!? Where I have added a sourdough recipe it’s typically for something very unusual that I’ve started from scratch to create the end result I wanted, such as the sourdough pan d’oro I posted about four years ago. There is also my article on looking after and maintaining your starter: Sourdough for starters (or growing your own pet yeast) (which was written in early 2016).
What’s in a name?
If you are scratching your head at all the terms used for the different stages in sourdough making, don’t worry as you’re not alone! There are various terms for the different stages, yet most names appear interchangeable and it’s not clear if there is indeed any differentiation.
For instance, the wild yeast starter – that bubbling mix produced by nurturing just flour and water and naturally occurring yeast present in the air and the flour – has many names. It can be referred to as a starter, mother, chief, chef, head or leaven (and there’s possibly more), though starter and mother seem to be most common.
When making a sourdough bread, it’s typical to take part of that starter and, mixing it with a little flour and water, create an early fermentation stage before you go on to add the remaining full ingredients to make the bread dough ‘proper’ and let it ferment and prove (the wild yeast takes longer to make the bread rise and it’s also this length of time which creates the sour taste). See my article on The science of bread making: how yeast works.
This particular stage has confusing names – is it a biga, a sponge, a pre-ferment, a poolish, a pouliche? Have you come across any other terms in a recipe? They all mean this particular stage and are roughly interchangeable. Some places cite that a biga is firmer (ie with less liquid) than a poolish, but I’ve also read recipes where the hydration for a biga is quite wet and some dry for a poolish. Confuzzled? I’m not surprised.
Modernist Cuisine looked into this and found too that there “seemed to be no universally accepted hydration levels for each variety”. It conducted some experiments about whether it made a difference to have a wetter or dryer pre-ferment stage and concluded it really makes no difference – or any difference was very subtle. Please read the interesting Modernist Cuisine article “Are biga, Poolish and Sponge Interchangeable” here.
An easy conclusion to make then, is that these names are regional – certainly, biga is Italian and poolish is a French nod to immigrant Polish bakers, but again this isn’t a cut and dried answer. Before commercial yeast became available, it appears in the UK that this stage was ‘sponge’ (most commonly) but confusingly now a sponge seems to generally refer to this stage but only when commercial yeast (blocks of live yeast or dried yeast) is used, not a wild yeast starter.
I think then, what does it matter what it’s called? I don’t name my stages when I’m making my sourdough breads at home – I just get on with it the process of bread making. I’ve used “biga” here just because this recipe owes more to Italian cuisine through the use of olive oil and the accompaniments I ended up serving it with. Follow any sourdough recipe, enjoy the process and the delicious results and don’t waste any thinking time on what’s in a name in that particular recipe 🙂
To make this within a 24 hour period/same day in order to eat fresh with an evening meal, my suggested timings are:
Mix the biga about 6:00 [or do this the night before, leaving it in the fridge until the next stage]
Mix the dough ingredients into the biga and autolyze at 11:00 and then knead
Leave to ferment and rise until 17:00
At 17:00, divide and roll out the dough into flatbread rounds
At 18:00 fry off the flatbreads
Medium bowl (for the biga) plus something to cover it with (a shower cap, cling film or tea towel etc)
Large bowl and a cover
A dough hook or large fork if you want to use one (or just your hands)
A bench scraper or heavy knife
Frying pan or cast iron skillet
Spatula or tongs for turning the flatbreads whilst cooking
For the biga:
70g of a lively sourdough mother/starter
70g strong white bread flour
70g lukewarm water
Mix together the starter, flour and water
Cover and leave for about five hours or overnight in the fridge
For the dough (results in 75% hydration):
220g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
165g warm water
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
Extra olive oil for the bowl and frying
Handful of fresh parsley (or mixed herbs), finely chopped
Mix and autolyze for 20 minutes
Knead for 10 minutes – it is a wet dough but will come together eventually. Only add a little more flour to your hands (not the table) if you are absolutely sure you need to
Smooth the dough into a ball using your hands and a bench scraper
Wipe a little olive oil into your bowl before placing your dough in and cover the bowl
Rest for four to five hours somewhere warm, but not very warm (flatbreads don’t need to rise that much so the dough does not need to be rested fully overnight). Alternatively if you want a very sour sourdough, leave up to eight hours
Take the dough and chop into eight equal pieces
Flour the surface you’re working on and your rolling pin
Take one of the pieces of dough and start to roll out, flipping it over as you need to
The dough will be able to be rolled out to about 16-18cm in diameter
When it’s rolled out, sprinkle over some of the chopped herbs, flip it over and sprinkle more on the other side. Pat down or lightly roll
Move this dough to the side (on a floured area, on a linen cloth/couche or a piece of greaseproof paper) and finish rolling out the other seven pieces of dough
Once they’re rolled out you can chill in the fridge, but you can cook these immediately
Heat some olive oil in a large frying or griddle pan over a medium to high heat
Once hot, lift up a flatbread carefully and place in the pan
It will sizzle – keeping an eye on it, leave it for about four to five minutes on one side. It will bubble up immensely. Lift up an edge and see if the flatbread has browned nicely – if so, flip over
Cook the flatbread for four to five minutes on the other side and then transfer to a plate or board and cover with a clean tea towel to keep warm (alternatively pop on a plate in a very low oven)
Cook the remaining flatbreads as above
They’re best eaten warm and soft, but get a nice crunch to them when they are fully cold
If you want to use them as wraps after they have cooled, say the day after, just pop them in a microwave for a few seconds or warm up in a oven and they’ll soften again
I would welcome your comments, feedback and likes on this recipe (as with all my recipes). Did you make it? What did you pair it with? Did you use different herbs? Did the photography help you? Have you a question in regards to the recipe?
I hesitated labelling this as schiacciata, even though that’s what I’ve always called this particular bake. Should I label it as focaccia as that’s more widely known? Focaccia or schiacciata: it’s mostly down to regional naming choice, with schiacciata being the term for this bread in Toscana. In fact, although these two Italian breads are incredibly well known (granted one more than the other), most Eurasian countries have a bread that’s very similar, even indistinguishable, to these. Investigate down to a regional level in Italy though and both focaccia and schiacciata have many specific variations due to the added ingredients such as schiacciatta all’uva, a famous Florentine sweet version with grapes (and absolutely delicious it is too).
From my cookbooks and from devouring plenty of Italian breads there’s no real, confirmed clarity on any differences between the two. As mentioned above there are some specific recipes, but these are down to the included ingredients. There’s just a confusing mix of some people saying they’re exactly the same base recipe (ie it’s just local naming) to those who think schiacciata is thinner and crispier on the outside or that focaccia is fluffier in the middle (or vice versa). One thing that seems more consistent is that many sources indicate that schiacciata only has salt on the top, not in the dough. There’s even a sheet cake from Veneto that’s called a schiacciata to add to the confusion. Some of the listed differences could actually just be down to the technique of the baker. Press down on the dough a bit more and you’ll get thinner and crispier, bake in a slightly hotter oven you’ll bake the outside first and the insides will be less ‘done’ by the time the exterior is cooked.
The only things that is a given is that schiaciatta comes from the verb schiacciata, to crush or press, indicating the way that fingers are used (on both focaccia and schiacciata) to press the dough down and create dimples for the oil to pool in before baking. I love it when food is named really basically by its description.
I expect I’ve made hundreds of focaccia and schiacciata over the years, as they’re one of our family’s favourites for sharing, dipping, turning into bruschetta, slicing sideways for sandwiches and just snacking on. And frankly these breads are fun to make and to swap ingredients and tastes around on.
All I know is they’re all lovely breads, tasty and versatile and that I use the same base bread recipe for either (though I do omit the salt from the dough if I am aiming to produce schiacciatta). The classic schiacciata is just topped with olive oil and salt, but this is a delicious and relatively common variation.
Makes one large schiacciata or you can make several small ones (if you want one each)
Can I add a plea here – if you’re making any Italian flatbread and are planning on using rosemary, please please don’t just throw it on the top: it’ll be a burnt crispy stalk of horror that you can’t eat. Either chop it up and knead it into the bread dough or sink any sprigs deep into the dough (so just a little is peeping out) and ensure they’re in one of the ‘dimples’ so that the olive oil pools around them and keeps them moist
If you can’t be bothered with having a layer of pesto inside the bread, you can just omit steps 15-20. Just press or roll out the dough to it’s final size before proofing and then the pesto and vine tomatoes on top and bake per the rest of the recipe
Large baking tray (approx 44cm x 30cm)
Small measuring jug
Clean tea towel
Rolling pin (not entirely necessary but does help)
Dough whisk (optional)
Wire cooling rack
Strong white bread flour – 300 g
Tepid water – 190 g/ml
Fast acting yeast – 1 level teaspoon
Caster sugar – 1 level teaspoon
Extra virgin olive oil, a rich and tasty variety is best – 1 ¼ tablespoons
Sea salt grinder (you’ll use about 1-2 teaspoons of salt in total)
Cherry or mini plum tomatoes on the vine – 1 large or two smaller ‘bunches’ of these vine tomatoes
Red pesto (I used Filippo Berio’s Grilled Vegetable Pesto here) – about 9-10 teaspoons
Additional olive oil for drizzling
Additional durum wheat flour (also called semola/semolina flour) if you have it for dusting or use bread flour
Mix in the sugar and yeast into the tepid water and leave for 10 minutes
In the large bowl, measure out your flour and make a well in the middle
Tip in your water, sugar and yeast and also the 1 ¼ tablespoons of olive oil
Mix the whole lot with your fingers, a large fork or a dough whisk into a rough, messy mix
Cover with a clean tea towel and leave for 10 minutes (for the autolyse process to start, which will help gluten develop and make kneading easier)
Tip it all out onto your clean surface and knead for about 8 minutes. The dough will be a little sticky and messy but stick with it – it will quite quickly come together
When the dough is transformed into a glossy, smooth dough, spread a little oil all over the bowl using your hands (so they are also now a little oily which will transfer to the dough)
Round the dough off into a ball and pop back into the bowl and recover with the tea towel
Leave the dough to rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place. It won’t have quite “doubled” in size but will be noticeably risen
Tip the dough back out onto your working surface
Knock out the large air bubbles by giving it a brief knead (just two or three ‘kneads and folds’ will do)
Flick a palm-full amount of the durum flour (if you don’t have this, just use the bread flour!) on to the baking tray
Pre heat your oven to 220 C fan / 240 C conventional
On your work surface, press out the dough as thinly as you can – you should be able to stretch it to about 28 cm (11-12 inches) in width and almost twice as long – a large oval
If this is difficult by hand, you can use a rolling pin to squash out the dough
Dot over about 5 teaspoonfuls of the pesto onto ONE HALF only of the rolled/pressed out dough
Fold the plain half of the dough over on itself to sandwich the pesto in between
Roll or press out the dough to a neat oval shape, enlarging it slightly – the schiacciata should take up about 80% of a large baking tray: I get it to about 28cm width, 38cm in length, as you can see in the image further down
Lift it up carefully and place on the baking tray
Pinch the edges together on the three sides (other than the folded edge). I tuck the edges under, so that the ‘seam’ isn’t seen but it doesn’t really matter
Try to ensure that the edges are not thicker than the rest of the dough, flattening it out as necessary
Leave to proof again for about 20 – 30 mins, covered with a tea towel
When risen a little (it won’t rise that much as you’ve flattened it out) use your finger tips to make indentations across the top for the oil
Drizzle some olive oil all over the dough, moving it about with your fingers if there are conspicuously dry patches anywhere
Dot several more teaspoonfuls of the pesto over the top of the dough, dispersing it about a little with the back of the spoon (but don’t ‘spread’ it out as you did with the first layer)
Sprinkle or grind the sea salt all over the dough (remember there is none in the dough itself so you do need a little more than just a light seasoning)
Lay the vine tomatoes out on the dough and gently press in
Transfer the baking tray and schiacciata to the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 220 C / 240 C (as mentioned above)
After 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 190 C fan / 210 C conventional and bake for a further 12 – 15 minutes
I have written a previous recipe for grissini (flavoured with olives, parmesan or seeds) which is a good, reliable recipe. It may seem odd to be writing a second grissini recipe but I believe it differs enough to warrant a write-up: these grissini are taper-thin and have an exceptional crunch to them. I’ve also rolled them in a chilli salt mix. They’re awesome on their own as a light snack but are wonderful with a melted cheese dip or something rich and tomato-y.
As I mentioned in the original grissini recipe, homemade breadsticks are simply miles ahead of the hideous pre-packed ones. I’ll repeat what I said in the original: once you’ve made your own grissini you can’t go back. The bonus is that they are one of the simplest yeasted bread recipes to make and are very impressive (especially when you know they’re pretty easy).
Makes about 30-40 breadsticks, dependent on the length you’ve rolled the dough out to.
*Stand mixer with dough hook attachment (if not kneading by hand)
Pizza cutter or long sharp knife (non-serrated)
Two large baking trays, lined with parchment
Clean linen tea towel or cling film
Tipo 00 or plain white flour – 150g
Strong white bread flour – 150g (plus a little extra for dusting)
Fast acting yeast – 1 level teaspoon/5g
Salt – 1 teaspoon
Extra virgin olive oil – 1 and 1/4 tablespoons (I used Filippo Berio’s)
3 tablespoons rock salt + 1 tablespoon of chilli flakes
Mix all the ingredients for the bread dough together (tipo 00 flour, bread flour, yeast, salt olive oil and water) into a scruffy mess
Leave for 10 minutes to autolyse (this period helps the gluten develop initially before kneading)
Tip out and knead for 8 – 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and glossy (or mix in your stand mixer if you prefer not to knead by hand)
Lightly oil the bowl you were using and pop the dough back in, and cover it with a tea towel or cling film until it has risen by about half as much again (it won’t ‘double in size’). This could be anything between 30 – 90 minutes depending on the ambient temperature
When the dough is ready, lightly flour your working surface and tip out your dough onto it
Flour your rolling pin and roll the dough out in as precise a rectangle as possible to about 0.5 cm / 1/4 inch thick (or as near as you can get it – don’t worry too much)
Leave to rest covered with a tea towel for about 20 minutes
Set the oven on to 200C fan / 220C conventional
When rested (and risen a little) use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut as many 0.75cm / 1/3 inch strips as you can from your dough rectangle
Scatter the chilli salt mix in a spread out pile on your working surface
Using a pastry brush, spread the beaten egg lightly over the dough strips, turning them over to coat both sides
Taking a strip of dough at a time, roll it gently in the salt and chilli, trying not to press too hard as you only want to roll the dough into a more rounded shape rather than lengthen it – the salt and chilli should stick on
Carefully transfer the dough strip to your lined baking tray
Repeat with all the dough strips, so they are all covered in the chilli and salt
Make sure there is a little space between all the dough strips on the baking trays and aim to line them up straight
Set the oven on to 200C fan / 220C conventional
Bake for about 14-16 minutes until a nice golden colour
Leave to cool in the trays
They should be crisp with a nice ‘snap’ when fully cooled
Biscotti, I’m sure you know means ‘twice baked’ in Italian, and that’s exactly what you have to do with these lovely little biscuits. They make wonderful gifts packaged up in waxed paper, placed in gift boxes or wrapped in raffia.
I’ve also given two options on the second cooking time, 7-8 minutes will produce a marginally softer end biscuit, as I know some don’t like the hardness of a traditional baked biscotti. However, if you do want that typical hard biscuit to dip into your cappuccino or mocha, then just leave them in for the full 12 minutes.
You could use large chocolate chunks, or something like M&Ms, instead of mini eggs for biscuits that will go down a treat at any time of year, not just Easter.
I’ve used a mild olive oil for these, so there’s no need to waste your expensive extra virgin oil (and also the taste of the higher quality oils aren’t needed here)
It doesn’t matter if you use sugar-coated mini eggs or just solid chocolate ones. Equally use your favourite chocolate, whether that’s milk or dark (white is a bit too sweet for this bake)
Makes around 30 biscotti
Takes 10 minutes to prepare and around 40 minutes to bake in total (this includes cooling for 10 minutes in between the bakes)
Two large baking sheets (or multiple small ones/cook in batches)
Baking paper/parchment (if it’s not reliably non-stick, wipe a kitchen towel moistened with olive oil over it)
Sharp knife, a heavy one is most useful
Spatula/slices (for lifting)
Wire airing rack
Plain flour or Tipo 00 flour – 270g
Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
Salt – 1 teaspoon
Eggs, medium/large sized – 2
Caster sugar – 120g
Olive oil – 95ml
Vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon
Mini chocolate Easter eggs – 2 x typical 80g packs
Preheat your oven to 160 C fan or 180 C conventional (325 F)
Line your baking trays with the parchment
Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, caster sugar, olive oil and vanilla extract and bring this gooey dough together in the bowl
Now gently mix in the eggs
Have your worktop/table covered in a light dusting of flour
Take the mix out of the bowl and divide into two
Shape each piece of dough into a long, slightly flattened log about 6cm in width
You may want to press in a few additional eggs into the top of the dough, so they are seen after baking
Bake for 20 mins until just starting to brown
Take the bakes out of the oven, but do not turn your oven off
Leave the bakes to cool, still sat on their baking trays
After about 10-12 minutes they should be cool enough to slice
Using a sharp knife, cut off 1 cm / 0.5 inch slices and lay them on their sides on the baking trays (like in the image below)
Place the sliced biscuits bake in the oven
Leave them for 8 minutes for a shortbread-like consistency or for 12 minutes if you would like hard biscotti to dunk in your coffee
Leave to cool and store in an airtight container for 3 – 4 days (up to a week if you baked them harder)