Handmade bread, focaccia and fresh yeast..

  I’ve been making bread daily for my boys in our breadmaker for the past couple of years, but you’ve all seen me making sourdough bread recently, and thoroughly enjoying myself, so now Ben demands sourdough EVERYDAY and the breadmaker has been collecting dust…but my husband doesn’t like sourdough fresh, he only likes it toasted, so I’ve decided it’s only fair to make sourdough alternate days and standard loaves inbetween, and with all the sourdough bread I’ve been making by hand, I wanted to now make non sourdough loaves by hand too. You know me, always liking a challenge, I decided it’s time to try out using fresh yeast too. 

This month, Delicious magazine included a recipe for a lovely looking handmade loaf…

   …which I decided to try out. At this point I only had dried yeast…

…but it still worked perfectly…I even replicated the photo in the magazine as I egg washed the dough…    …and the slashes…

  The loaf came out perfectly and as the recipe includes milk and egg, it makes a lovely rich loaf, almost like brioche minus the sweetness. 

Then it was time to try out fresh yeast. 

You can get fresh yeast from your local supermarket if they have an internal bakery – at Tesco they don’t charge you, they just give you a ‘cake’ of yeast 🙂 I split it into 15g portions and froze what I didn’t use as it only keeps for a couple of days in the fridge. I can then defrost the portions as I need them.

Note: the rule of thumb that I’ve read is that whatever weight of dried yeast a recipe asks for, you double it for fresh yeast. So replace 7g dried yeast with 14 – 15g fresh yeast. 

This was cake of yeast I was given, it almost looked like a cake of soap! 

  I made the magazine loaf again and it doubled in size with the inclusion of the fresh yeast, it was great to watch it grow! However, I do not have any photos for you, it got eaten too quickly!!! I decided to try the fresh yeast again and finally make some focaccia, I’ve seen so many of you make wonderful looking loaves of focaccia and after reading Sally’s post the other day, I decided yesterday was the day. I know that Ben likes rosemary and sea salt so decided to use those flavours in my first attempt. 

Once again, the dough grew really well and really quickly – I’m loving the fresh yeast!!! What great stuff! 

My Focaccia


500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for kneading 

300ml warm water

1 tsp fine salt 

15g fresh yeast or 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast 

2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing 

1 tbsp dried rosemary & chunky sea salt 



1. Crumble the yeast into a small bowl and mix with 50ml of the warm water. Stir to melt the yeast and create a milky solution.

2. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, pour in the yeast solution and gradually mix in the remaining warm water plus the oil until the dough comes together – add a dash more water if it seems dry. 

3. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 5 minutes, until smooth. (The dough was quite sloppy and moist so I needed to keep adding some more flour to the table but it didn’t affect the texture of the bread.) 

4. Put into a large oiled bowl, cover with cling film and prove for 1 & 1/2 hours at room temperature. 

5. Knock out the air, shape into a large circle/oval depending on the shape and size of your tray, and put on an oiled/silicone paper lined baking sheet. Cover with oiled cling film and prove for 45 minutes. 

6. Press fingertips into the dough all over, stretching the dough out slightly as you do, drizzle with oil, scatter with sea salt and rosemary, then bake for 25 minutes. 

7. Drizzle with oil and serve warm.

Note: when ‘oiled cling film’ is required, I use spray olive oil or Lurpaks Cooks Range Cooking Mist – I use this a lot, it’s a light butter spray. I use it to ‘oil’ the bowl too. Selma reviewed the new Lurpaks Cooks Range recently and I’ve used it ever since, it works well for frying eggs too. 




 The verdict was thumbs up all round! Ben and Graham tucked into it last night and loved it. I rarely eat the bread I make, but today I decided to try some of my creation and made a focaccia sandwich with goats cheese and some baby plum toasties that I had roasted yesterday with garlic and olive oil…absolutely heavenly!! Definitely worth the bloated belly I am now sporting!  Bring on the bread making 🙂 

I’m sure I’ll be experimenting with even more bread recipes this week, I just love making my own bread and watching it develop, the sense of achievement is massive, and I have such appreciative taste testers, it’s a joy to make it, so if you’ve got any recipes you think I’d like, do send me your links, or share them in the comments section for everyone to see. 

I hope you are all having a good weekend 🙂 x

PS There has of course continued to be endless sourdough making too, this was today’s loaf…. 


53 thoughts on “Handmade bread, focaccia and fresh yeast..

  1. sallybr

    WOW, WOW, WOW! Triple wow indeed! this is an amazing post, I love your brioche-like loaf, what superb scoring that was, just like the magazine!

    glad my focaccia inspired you, I now want to bake some bread – my sourdough is frozen so I must resort to commercial yeast instead…

    now I have a suggestion for you, using a poolish – this was such a great bread, I probably should re-visit it too


    Liked by 1 person

  2. kellie anderson

    You are ON FIRE with the bread making, Gorgeous bread making. The last time I tried to get yeast from the Tesco inshore bakery, no one was there. I waited and waited. If I had got some I would have been baking bread for my recent Live Below The Line challenge. Instead it was a week of roti! You bread is looking very pro these days. I am reading while hungry. Not a good call…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. M-R

    Breadmaking is WUNDERBAR ! 🙂 I love reading your stories, MSPF … But I’m sticking with the sourdough (which isn’t in the slightest way sour), as I’m all set up for it, and I enjoy the whole procedure. I have yet to see if Celia has a spin-off for panini-type buns …
    Tell me of that kind of coating on your sourdough – what makes that ?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lauzan

    Your focaccia is beautiful, just like your breads! Focaccia is our daily bread, the goblins love it and I make it very often. My favorite is cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and sliced fresh onions….! In Tuscany we like it also very thin and crunchy, we call it schiacciata (flat)…bravissima Elaine! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Lauzan

        Yes, same dough but I stretch it thinner!! Sometimes we even put sugar on it, on the crunchy one, together with olive oil….;) I know you don’t like sweets and cakes, but it’s delicious…xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Elaine @ foodbod Post author

        Oh wow, how interesting…my sister in law, Mercedes, is Spanish and she introduced us to having toast with olive oil and salt, but she also said that they often had olive oil and sugar on toast for their breakfast as children 🙂 maybe it’s a mainland European thing?


      3. Lauzan

        I think it’s a very mediterranean “thing”. I still remember when (a very long time ago) we were doing this kind of sweet schiacciata in our wood oven, in the country house. Oh what a lovely smell…when just out of the oven it’s almost like caramel..And yes I eat toasts with olive oil and salt (and also balsamic vinegar…). It’s called bruschetta, and you usually add fresh garlic, scratching a clove on the toast (don’t know the Spanish name, a sorto of tapa.. maybe?). My tea time at my grandmother’s was bread salt oil and vinegar or bread water and sugar… Simple but delicious! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Elaine @ foodbod Post author

        Wow! What amazing memories! And so much more inviting than my memories of jam and leftover pastry from my Grandmother!!
        Although my other Grandmother used to cut open bread rolls, crumble Cadburys flake over the top and grill it…that was pretty good!!!
        I’m much rather choose the olive oil and salt option these days 🙂 x

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Lauzan

        So do I! My other grandmother loved to bake though and she was doing a delicious but “chocking” ring shaped cake or even sablé cookies! I still have her cookie cutters.. 🙂 We don’t have cadburys flakes here nor in Italy but sounds pretty good as tea time!! 😉 xxx

        Liked by 1 person

  5. platedujour

    Foccacia looks amazing Elaine!! And the two loaves of bread- oh my Goodness!! I don’t know how you do it, all this looks so good. Hopefully one day I’ll get to try all of this 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person


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