Friday, 23 August 2019

Focaccia with Sourdough for a black cat birthday

There are times when I love trying new ideas and being a fearless adventurer in the world of recipes and others when I just find it tiring that I don't have the recipe I want.  On days of low energy I am often grateful for my blog to wander down the memory lane of recipes I have tried with notes to prompt my memory.  And so this focaccia was born of a need to make a charcoal cat bread for a black cat's birthday but with minimal energy.

Let me explain!  Sylvia decided we were to celebrate our black cat's birthday this year.  Shadow is a rescue cat, however, so we don't know his birthday.  Sylvia very wisely decided we could celebrate it on International Cat Day on 8 August or the nearest day.  Just in case you think that we invited all Shadow's cat friends, let me stop you there.  My dad once held a birthday party for our dog and invited all the neighbourhood dogs.  He threw a bone to them as a birthday treat but it just resulted in a dog fight.  And cats, thinking they are royalty, don't really need friends.  The adoring household slaves will do.

I promised Sylvia a black cat focaccia.  So I searched the internet for an overnight sourdough focaccia.  They were all so fussy with kneading til your knuckles bled and waiting an hour here and folding the pesky dough and then watching the clock for another hour.   Regular readers who know I love making my overnight sourdough bread will know that I don't do fussy breads.  Luckily I found an overnight sourdough focaccia on my blog that combined sourdough and yeast.  So I tinkered.  As I do.  Which means a lot of thought about how to do it before finally putting it together late at night.

Making the overnight sourdough bread as often as I do means I have a good feel for the quantities.  I tweaked the focaccia recipe to take out the commercial yeast altogether and was exceedingly lazy in just mixing the ingredients the previous night and then shaping and baking the bread without resting the next morning.  Amazingly it worked.  Perhaps it was the gold salt on top which Sylvia said was just a pinch of magic.  (Yes it could have been a bit bubblier but was very soft and lovely to eat fresh.)  We also had hummus, vegie sticks, cheezels, vegemite crackers, cat biscuits and fruit skewers.

Sylvia made Shadow a fluffy throne and put a bow tie around his neck.  She wanted to have dried cat food at the table for him but I put my foot down there.  My dad might have thought animals wanted parties but my mum was always very clear that animals had their place (usually out of the house).  So Shadow sat in his throne looking bemused for a few minutes before heading off to his favourite cushion and Sylvia, E and I enjoyed a cat-themed lunch.  Then Sylvia and I had a swim to work off our big lunch and enjoy a quiet pool in the middle of winter.

Now that I have hit a zenith of laziness in bread making, there is no stopping me.  I have tried another version of the focaccia that I will share soon.  Meanwhile, Sylvia and I had fun writing some cat top 5s that I will share here:

Top 5 cat songs: Love Cats (the Cure), Cat Song (Bryant Oden), The Cat Came Back (Harry S Miller), Cat's in the Cradle (Harry Chapin), What's New Pussy Cat (Tom Jones).

Top 5 cat movies: A Street Cat Named Bob, Mr Fuzzy Pants, The Cat Returns (Ghibli), A Cat in Paris, Thunder and the House of Magic.

Top 5 children's cat books: Mog (Judith Kerr), Gobbolino the Witch's Cat (Ursula Moray Williams), The Cat in the Hat (Dr Suess), There are Cats in this Book (Viviane Schwarz), I am Pusheen the Cat (Claire Belton).

To 5 adult cat books: Cleo: how a small black cat helped to heal a family (Helen Brown), Dewey the small-town library cat who touched the world (Vicki Myron and Bret Witter), Kaspar Prince of Cats (Michael Morpurgo), Oscar Bionic Cat (Kate Allan).

More cat posts on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Andy Warhol - Ai Weiwei and Studio Cats at the NGV
Black cat chocolate gingerbread recipe
Cat biscuits recipe (v)
Cat Cafe
Cat cupcakes recipe
Viking cat cake recipe

Black cat focaccia 
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe"s overnight sourdough bread and overnight focaccia
Makes one cat face and three small round focaccias

300g ripe sourdough starter
400g warm water
3 Tbsp olive oil
700g white bread flour
1 tbsp salt, or less
2 tsp (15 g) charcoal (optional)
extra olive oil and gold salt for topping

Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Cover well (I used a cover with elasticised edges or you can use clingwrap) and leave overnight or 8-12 hours.

When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 220 C.

Scrape bread out of bowl onto a well floured surface (I used fine semolina sprinkled on the surface).  I cut into one large piece, a couple of smaller triangles for ears and three small pieces.

Place on a large baking paper lined oven tray and shape the large piece into a circle.  Attach and shape the ears.  Make very big holes for eyes, nose and mouth.  Dimple the rest of the face with fingers.  Shape the three smaller pieces into circles and dimple with your fingers.

Drizzle olive over over the focaccia and sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 20 minutes or until it sounds hollow when you tap it.  Eat warm or room temperature.  Lasts up to 2 days.

On the stereo:
The Belly of an Architect soundtrack: Wim Mertens


  1. OK a cat birthday party with color-coordinated food is the cutest thing EVER!

  2. Johanna - you are truly amazing, you always seem to amaze me and take my breath away with your homely creations. Love the charcoal focaccia bread. And i wish I was a guest at the Cat Party too :) I absolutely love the picture and Sylvia's cuteness in ensuring that Shadow was centre of attention with his fluffy throne and bow tie around his neck.I am really smiling. Happy Friday and have a good weekend, its Bank holiday here so i am taking it easy.

  3. That cat on the throne picture is so funny! What a lovely celebration and an amazing charcoal bread.

  4. Love the fact that you threw Shadow a birthday party, despite his apparent disdain. The cat head bread is cool. I am all for non-fussy too.


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