I am rummaging through the cupboards and I find the backing to the sticky Cath Kidston ducks we had stuck all over the tiles in our bathroom when we first arrived. They had seemed such an important touch of making an alien environment feel like home (and they were light to carry), now I am peeling them off one by one thinking of all the giggles, bubbles and splashes they had become part of as we bathed Lucas in a laundry bucket for the past year and a half.
The rain outside pours down, the thunder booms around the flats, it is dark but cosy for mid afternoon. We are in the wet season, the much awaited rains have finally come and the dust has settled, its home. As the rain draws in its like winter approaches in a single afternoon, the concept of seasons is distant, its either wet or dry. When this village was completed the road was tough and very long and thankfully we just avoided the rains, what a blessing! Lucas happily plays in what to him is the home he knows and remembers, he is in a world of tractors, play dough mud, bales of hay and a tele-handler (we so have to live near a farm!). We have less than three weeks during which we are also due to travel to Kitale, Western Kenya to take the equipment for the further eye projects, as I write, two engineers are on their ay to Kisumu to check out the bakery equipment for sale, things are getting busy and so we take what opportunities we can to sort through whats getting packed into cases. As one chapter begins to close others are opening, we are not sure if we are finishing or beginning….
Recipe – Cheese and Rocket Focaccia
Adapted from The River Cottage Handbook: No. 3 – Bread
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 5g dried yeast
- 10g fine salt
- 325ml warm water
- About 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for coating
- A generous drizzle of olive oil
- A sprinkle of flaky sea salt
- 150g of cheese, cheddar, blue cheese, parmesan what ever you feel like. I used mozzarella and a strong almost cheddar like cheese.
To knead by hand: mix the flour, yeast, salt and water in a bowl to form a sticky dough. Add the oil, mix it in, then turn the dough out on to a clean work surface. Knead until smooth and silky, about 10 minutes.
Or, to use a food mixer: fit the dough hook and add the flour, yeast, salt and water to the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until evenly combined, then add the oil and leave to knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and silky.
Shape the dough into a round and coat with a little extra oil. Leave to rise in a clean bowl, covered with a plastic bag. When it has doubled in size, tip it on to the work surface and press into a rough rectangle. Place in a lightly oiled shallow baking tray, measuring about 26 x 36cm. Press the dough in with your fingers, right into the corners. Sprinkle the grated cheese over half of the dough and fold over the other half to sandwich the cheese. Now leave to rise, covered, for about half an hour, it helps of slightly oil cling film to cover.
Preheat your oven to 220°C, or as high as it will go. When the bread looks puffed up and airy, use your fingertips to poke deep holes across the whole surface, almost to the bottom. Drizzle the top generously (but not swimmingly) with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, black pepper and even chopped rosemary if you feel like. Bake for about 10minutes, then turn the oven down to about 200°C and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Focaccia is best eaten warm, but not hot; leave to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before serving, or leave to cool completely.