After a cooler night last night, we arose refreshed and ready to explore a nearby archaeological site called the Area archeologica delle Grotte di Catullo.
‘Oh yes, another reason, and probably the most compelling reason for the aborted trip was that I had left my wallet back at the caravan!
Stuck out on a peninsular on the southern end Lake Garda. Only away, that should be easy to find and give us a bit of much needed exercise. After we had negotiated the traffic jam that was Peschiera del Garda, a fortified and moated town, we were ejected on to the correct road, heading towards Sirmione. We turned right when directed in to the highly manicured town, filled with expensive houses, cars and boats (It's only a lake!) The traffic and hoards of people walking, all towards our destination, made us wonder if a Saturday visit was a good idea. We continued until we reached a large carpark where we turned around as it was full and headed back to the campsite, vowing to return in September, on a weekday, when it should be a bit quieter. Oh yes, another reason, and probably the most compelling reason for the aborted trip was that I had left my wallet back at the caravan!
Rosemary, Thyme and Olive Bread topped with Parmesan Cheese
So instead of exercise, I'm going to show you how we make bread in the caravan. Firstly we need the ingredients.
Flour - In Italy you need to find 'O' grade flour rather than the standard 'OO' grade. It is far more processed than English bread flower and, is fairly tasteless, so plenty of other ingredients are needed to give you something to get your taste buds going. So we'll add some herbs and stuff later.
Firstly we'll make a standard dough using 250grams of bread flower, a teaspoon of dried yeast, you can't easily carry fresh yeast in a caravan and a teaspoon of sea salt, unprocessed and full of natural iodine and great for your health. A tablespoon of Olive Oil to help the world go round all mixed together in a bowl with 150ml of warm water until a smooth dough is formed, then cover the bowl with a shower cap and place somewhere warm to rise.
Now the flavoursome part
Rosemary and Thyme: As some of you will know, Herman the Hedgehog, the custodian of our small but thriving herb garden has been suffering from a lack of sunlight due to the size the rosemary has grown to. So after a hair cut, he is looking much happier. The leaves are stripped from the stems of the off cuts, cut with scissors into smallish pieces and bruised with a pestle in a mortar to release the flavours.
10 Olives, de-stoned and broken or cut into smallish pieces.
We also have a little of the local Parmesan Cheese hanging around, if I remember, I'll sprinkle this over the top when it is 5 minutes from cooked.
Once the dough has risen, to at least double in size, the herbs and other ingredients are folded in, with a bit more, but not too much, flour. I find that kneading the dough in the bowl works well for me, however Julia likes to use the work surface, such as it is, to knead it until it's well mixed together.
The second and only other rise, is another cheat. Form the dough into the shape you want it, cut deeply with a pair of scissors else when the bread cooks the base stays on the bottom and it'll split all around the edge. The cuts allow the dough to expand upwards and outwards. Place the backing tray in to the cold oven, shut the door and turn the oven on to gas mark 8 and cook for 20 minutes.
Due to the poor design of the oven, the bread has to be turned upside down for 10 minutes so that the bottom cooks to the same amount as the top!
With 5 minutes to go, baste the top with olive oil and sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese. If you want to make sure the bread is cooked, you can either knock on the bottom and hopefully hear a hollow sound, I prefer to stick in a thermometer and make sure the internal temperature is 95°C or over.
Turn out on to the grill pan to allow the bread to cool, cover with a tea towel and, if you have the will power, do not cut into until cold!