Hi, Ilaria here. I don’t know about you, but I love bread, especially wholesome grainy bread with seeds. I love seeds! I also love pasta, and rice, and polenta … Basically, a big feast of carby-goodness will always put a smile on my face. I like to justify my appetite for such things by ‘blaming’ it on my Italian heritage – I’ve mentioned before that I can eat my bodyweight in pasta, and it’s the same story for bread; it’s in my blood! There’s just no other way! Bring me bread and oil, and I’m a happy camper. This particular bread recipe that I’m sharing with you holds a very special place in my personal bread history …
It all began in Italy. I traveled there often with my family when I was younger, for a month or so at a time, during summer. As well as spending time in Tuscany and Reggio Emilia, I would stay in Genova with my Auntie (Zia) Margot. Every morning we would go on a quick stroll to the bread shop at the corner of her street to pick up enough bread to last through lunch and dinner. As well as grabbing the standard ciabatta, Zia Margot would always buy me a piece of focaccia bread for breakfast. Honestly, this particular Genovese focaccia is the best I’ve ever tasted. I think what made it so spectacular was the lightness of the dough that still maintained a delicate element of bite and stretch, as well as the rosemary scattered through it, and the generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and the sea salt on top. Thinking about it now is literally making my mouth water! If I can pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with bread, it was right then and there, the first time I tried that focaccia in Genova.
Fast forward to November 2010 and I’m living in the Haute Savoie region in France. I’d just turned 19 when I set off again on an adventure to the other side of the world (from New Zealand), unsure of the general plans except to have a base in Annecy. Haute Savoie is the bread and cheese capital of France! Along with discovering the freshest and mildest goat’s cheese, I also discovered the “Boulangerie” and the “Patisserie”. I gotta say when it comes to bread, the French have it sussed. My usual lunch ritual in Annecy was all about the little bakery at the end of Rue Jean Jaures where I lived. This was a haven full of the most tantalizing loaves and treats you could imagine. There were mini pizzas, palmiers, chocolate brioches, fig tarts, and sandwiches… the most glorious sandwiches I’ve eaten! My regular was the small white loaf smeared with a little garlic, a drizzle of oil, goat’s cheese, jamon serrano, and walnuts. It was perfect and satisfied everything I’d hoped for in a sandwich.
Four years later, and I’m still obsessed with bread. My latest cravings tend to lay alongside Wild Wheat’s Kumara bread, and this easy wholesome loaf called Dianne’s 5 Grain Bread that’s been handed down to me from my mum and to her from her sister, my New Zealand Auntie Dianne. I was feeling a little low the other day, feeling like I needed something warming and comforting. Yep! I ended up baking bread! Just by mixing yeast and water the dough rises and 50 minutes later you have two crusty-topped soft-centred warm loaves ready to be slathered in your favorite topping. I hope that if you’re in need of a little comfort during the cooler afternoons, or if you’re after a substantial and healthy loaf, you’ll give this recipe a go and enjoy it as much as we all do.