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ALMOND, SWEET POTATO AND ROSEMARY FOCACCIA

danielle copperman

F O C A C C I A . It's just fun to say. But it's even more fun to eat, especially when it contains absolutely no gluten, wheat, dairy or unnecessary additives or preservatives.

This is by far the easiest bread recipe I have developed since cutting wheat and gluten and generally unhelpful ingredients out of my diet. I always enjoy the challenge of making something I love without using any of the main ingredients usually involved. Eton Mess without meringue was a tough one. Raw Rolo's was just ingenious and much simpler than it might seem. And bread has actually proven tastier when made completely 'not right'. In baking, there are a lot of rules, backed by a lot of science. Things must rise, things must proof, things must have specific consistencies and textures. That is according to proper chefs (I still don't class myself as a proper chef as I thrive off improvisation and hope rather than actual skill and years of practice). But in my kind of cooking, it's not about making something exactly right. It's merely about making something healthy, taste just as good, if not better than the unhealthier version of itself. And dare I say, I almost always succeed. Things may not have exactly the correct properties, but as long as they taste good, nourish from within and fill a gap where something we previously adored used to be, then thats all that matters.

Bread is definitely one of those things that has to be just right. It has to grow, develop, proof and become all kinds of things from stretchy to doughy to twice the size of what it was when it began. However, in my opinion, as long as it is crisp, doughy and/or fluffy in some way, it's an instant pass. I love miracle bread for a crispy, crunchy bread. I love warm seeded rolls for my doughy bread needs. And I love this focaccia because it is the fluffiest bread to have come out of my oven.

Adding vegetables and fresh herbs to your bread may not seem the obvious thing to do, but it is all about getting those vegetable into as many meals or snacks as you can. You're not likely to eat a bowl of broccoli as a snack, but if you dice or blend it into a bread batter, you will, much more willingly. Play around with the vegetables you put into yours. You can also use carrot, beetroot, cauliflower, courgette or sun dried tomato. Just try to avoid anything too wet, as this will affect the texture of the bread.

I N G R E D I E N T S

2 Cups Ground Almonds
3 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
1 Teaspoon Sumac
1 Tablespoon Dried Basil
2 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary, chopped or kept whole
1 Tablespoon Fresh Sage or Basil, chopped
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil or Avocado Oil
4 Tablespoons Buckwheat Flour (can also use ground almonds instead)
Himalayan Pink Salt, to taste
1/2 Garlic Clove, Crushed (optional)
3 - 4 Tablespoons Raw Sweet Potato, grated
1 Teaspoon Arrowroot
2 Tablespoons Coconut Milk or Yoghurt, optional (this will make the bread more moist, but it also works well and turns out fluffier without)
1-2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast, optional (to add a cheesy flavour)
.
Fresh Rosemary, to top
Sweet Potato Discs, to top 
Flaked Almonds, to top
Crushed Garlic, to top
Himalayan Pink Salt, to top
1/2 Teaspoon Organic Raw Honey, to top
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, to top

M E T H O D

Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease a load tin or a flat baking tray or a heat proof dish with a little coconut oil. 

Start by adding the eggs to your blender or food processor, followed by the ground almonds, dried herbs, baking powder, salt, arrowroot, oil and the garlic, coconut milk and nutritional yeast, if using. Blend until smooth, then transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Stir through the whole fresh herbs and grated sweet potato (i like to keep them whole as they add more flavour and texture to the focaccia, but you can also blend the herbs and the sweet potato into the batter - either will work). Pour into your prepared tin/dish, spreading evenly and ensuring the mixture reaches the sides. Now top with whatever you like. I used flaked almonds, fresh rosemary, salt and sweet potato discs.

+ For caramelised sweet potato, heat some oil and honey in a griddle pan and place the thinly diced sweet potato discs over the surface of the pan. Heat through and turn the discs over a few times, until they begin to brown and soften. Then lay them on the top of the focaccia batter. They will crisp up nicely in the oven.

Place in the oven and cook for 12 mins on 180. After 12 minutes, reduce the heat to 160c and cook for 20 minutes. The cooking time will depend on the depth of the dish you are using, so keep an eye on it as it bakes. Poke a knife into the middle of the loaf, and if it comes out clean, the bread is done. If it comes out with batter on, leave it in for another 10 minutes or so.

+ If the toppings are cooking or beginning to brown, cover with foil.

Let the focaccia cool before cutting into individual slices.