Bakes & More + spelt

spelt focaccia with goat's cheese and caramelised onion

While there are many parts of moving that are difficult/stressful/argument-provoking, the whole process of selling your home seems to me to be one of the very hardest.

Our flat has been on the market for a couple of weeks now. We've had a fair number of viewings but no offers (unless anyone is on the hunt for a slightly over-priced 2 bedroom flat in W9?). Our estate agent uploaded the photographs of our flat to various property websites while we were on holiday. I looked at them like I was looking at a stranger's flat, noticing details that I've become blind to over the years.
Because we never know when we're going to have a viewing, we've become remarkably and quite uncharacteristically disciplined since it went on the market. We make the bed and draw the curtains in our bedroom every morning. Before we go to bed, I spend five minutes cleaning the kitchen and straightening the cushions. I haven't quite cured my boyfriend of the habit of placing his empty glasses next to, rather than in, the dishwasher but we're getting there.

The thing is, I know what kind of viewer I am. I am one of those people who surreptitiously studies the titles on a bookshelf. I sneak a look in kitchen cupboards. I try to work out how I would organise the furniture if it was mine.

We saw one flat a couple of months ago that was owned by a couple who were both accountants, like we are. I know this because they have put their framed qualification certificates on the wall of the study, unlike ours which are languishing at the back of the wardrobe. We walked around the flat feeling a strange kinship with these people that we'd never met. Their washing up was drying next to the sink; the bathroom was still heavy with condensation from their morning showers. There was a picture of the two of them in the bedroom - a holiday snap where they look deliriously happy (and the type which my boyfriend and I are physically incapable of taking).
Being there, it felt so intimate.

When viewers walk into our bedroom, do they see the high ceilings and the bay window? Or do they notice what type of perfume I wear and what size feet my boyfriend has? When they walk into the kitchen, do they see the cupboard space and the appliances or do they see the number of different flours I have? And what does that tell them about me? Do they admire the canal view from the window of the sitting room or the collection of wooden animals that my boyfriend brought back from South Africa? I hope that most people will see the former but I'm pretty sure that at least some people are like me and will see the latter too.
And whilst they may be there to pass judgement on my flat, I can't help but wonder what those people will think of me.

"They" say that filling your home with the smell of freshly baked bread is an excellent way to appeal to prospective purchasers.
And so, I baked bread.
Spelt focaccia with goat's cheese and caramelised onions
Yield: Makes 1 loaf

I've had a few bad rises recently and so I went to the trouble of using a thermometer to make sure that my water was the right temperature to activate the yeast - it was definitely worth it and confirmed to me that too-cold water was my problem. I probably could have been a little more generous with the goat's cheese but it's a flavour that I'm only just beginning to appreciate after years of skepticism.

  • 225g (2 cups) whole grain spelt flour
  • 275g (a little under 2 1/2 cups) white spelt flour (you can play with this ratio depending on how hearty you want your bread)
  • 4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 7g (1 sachet) dried yeast
  • 100g (4 oz) soft goat's cheese
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into rounds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme

Cooking Directions
  1. Put the flour, olive oil and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Dissolve the yeast in a cup (240ml) of warm water and leave for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the yeast to the flour, oil and salt and knead either by hand or in a stand-mixer for 5 - 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. You may need a touch more water if the dough looks a bit dry.
  4. Add about half of the cheese and half the thyme and continue to knead until they're spread through the dough.
  5. Put in a bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Allow to rise for an hour or so in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. While the bread is rising, heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. add the onion and cook over a low heat for 30 - 40 minutes until golden brown.
  7. When the dough is ready, shape it with your hands into your desired shape and make some dimples with your fingers.
  8. Drizzle with a little more olive oil, sprinkle with salt and the rest of the thyme. Add the onion and finish with the rest of the goat's cheese pressed into the dimples.
  9. Preheat the oven to 200C/375F. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until golden brown.
It goes without saying that, for once, this post was written before the events of yesterday which I'm still trying to understand. As someone who is a reluctant runner, I've always been in awe of those who choose to run a marathon and I can't believe that anyone would target a race like this. The stories and images and truly heartbreaking.

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spelt focaccia with goat's cheese and caramelised onion + spelt