We came to Ireland as WWOOFers to spend two months on a small horse farm near Innishannon, west of Cork. We liked Ireland and started strategizing how we could stay longer. Ann was not in the market for WWOOFers at that point but the website for South Reen Farm retreat center sounded like a perfect placement. We visited and made Ann an offer she couldn’t refuse – in exchange for room, food supplies (we prepared our own meals) and transportation we would help Ann tackle some of the many tasks on her to-do list. We ended up staying for eighteen wonderful months.
During that time we worked on many interesting projects – clearing brambles, planting trees, whitewashing a building, starting a garden, constructing a stone wall. The experience was quite varied and all fun. As there were retreats being hosted then at the farm, we were also involved in preparing meals for retreatants. Soups and breads topped the menus. And focaccia was one of our favorites.
Source: The Ballymaloe Bread Book by Tim Allen
Makes: l large focaccia, 10×12 in.
Need: 1 olive oil pizza dough
Olive oil pizza dough:
20 gm/ 3/4 oz fresh yeast or 1 tblsp dried yeast
225ml/8 oz water
50 ml/2oz olive oil
25 gm/1 oz butter
1 tsp salt
15 gm/ ½ oz sugar
450 gm / 1lb strong white flour
Sponge the yeast in 150 ml/5 oz tepid water, leave in a warm place for about 5 minutes
Into large bowl, sieve the flour, salt and sugar. Rub in the butter and make a well in the center.
Pour in the sponged yeast, olive oil and most of the remaining water
Turn the dough out onto t lightly floured work surface and cover to rest for 5min.
Knead by hand for about 10 minutes or until smooth, springy and elastic.
Put the dough in a large ceramic bowl and cover tightly with clingfilm.
When the dough has more than doubled in size after about 1-2 hrs., knock back and knead again for about 2-3 minutes. Leave to rest for again for 10 minutes.
On well floured surface, roll out to size of tin.
Place on oiled baking sheet and make deep indentations all over the surface with your fingers. Brush liberally with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt rosemary, sage, black olives, etc.
Allow to rise again. Put in oven and bake for 5 min at 230 degrees C/450 degrees F, then reduce heat to 200 degrees C/ 400 degrees F for a further 15- 20 minutes.