Bread. I bloody love the stuff! I could happily eat fresh bread all day long – just bread, butter …maybe a little cheese, ooh chutney. You see where this is going. Bread porn. Yum! Due to the bread addiction, I really only allow myself to gorge in the stuff at weekends. This focaccia is our ‘go to bread’ on Saturdays when it’s just perfect with homemade soup. Anytime we are feeding masses of friends I knock a few loaves of this stuff out and with even simple salads, cheese, ham and pesto, it never fails to impress.
I promised this recipe to my friend’s Mum ages ago after I brought a loaf to a BBQ. Now, as holidays fast approach, and I fear having to make my feeble excuses for forgetting in person, so a bit late, here it is.
Basic Focaccia (makes two loaves)
20g dried yeast (or 30g fresh yeast)
625ml tepid water
1kg strong white bread flour, plus some extra for dusting
Rock salt and ground black pepper
Toppings of your chosing: such as rosemary, olives, sundried tomatoes, garlic, chorizo etc.
Note: I use a mixer with a dough hook but this is also easily made by hand. I say easy. It is – but not as easy!
1. If using fresh yeast, dissolve the yeast and honey in half the tepid water.
2. Add the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the dissolved yeast, or the dry yeast and half the water. Mix on slow gradually adding the water.
3. Increase the mixer to a medium speed and leave to knead for about 3 minutes until the dough has a nice elastic texture. If kneading by hand knead the dough on a floured surface rolling, pushing and folding over and over for about 5 minutes.
4. Set the dough aside in a well-oiled and covered bowl in a draft-free place for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
5. Taking a deep baking tin, cover the surface of the tin in olive oil – making sure to remember the sides. When the dough is ready, drop it into the pan, using your fingers to shape it to fit the tin. This knocks the air out of the dough.
6. Make some marks on the top with your finger tips and splash the top of the dough with some olive oil. Sprinkle some rock salt on the top and add your topping – pressing olives, tomatoes etc gently into into the dough.
7. Cover with a loose fitting plastic bag and set aside to prove a second time.
8. Preheat the oven to 220C.
9. When the loaf has doubled in size,put it in the oven and cook for c. 20 minutes until the top of the loaf is crisp and golden.
10. When you take the loaf out, sprinkle with a little more oil. Let this soak in and it’s ready to eat.