I am really enjoying making bread these days. And in the last week or so I have become obsessed with Focaccia. It’s quite hard to actually get it right. For me, it needs lots of olive oil, herbs and salt. I have made a few not so wonderful versions in the last week. Some were too dry, some the toppings didn’t shine through but this one, this one is my favourite. Light, fluffy, moist and you can actually taste the oil. They key is to not overwork it and add loads of oil.
I’ve been tackling some of the DIY jobs in the house this week. In our house, the painting jobs are divided up. My partner D paints the walls and I do all the fiddly parts, like corners and the woodwork. I of course gave up half way through and have been looking at scruffy doors and skirting for the past few years. I have been lazy and less proactive than I should be until this week that is, which is perfect as it means I am around to give my attention to the Focaccia. I have come up with a recipe that only requires attention every hour and only once or twice, it’s quite simple actually. Which is great as I have been sanding, filling and painting the woodwork in our utility room. So every hour, I’d put down the paint brush and go attend the focaccia, which allowed the paint to dry before I had to continue DIYing. It’s been a very therapeutic and productive couple of days!
ROSEMARY AND DRIED HERB FOCACCIA
I had some (very little) fresh rosemary and always have lots of dried herbs to hand. But use what herbs you feel like, throw in some olives to top or red onion. There are many choices on how to finish this, but the base focaccia recipe works for all.
- 500 g strong white bread flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 packets dried easy blend yeast (about 14 g)
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 400 ml cold water
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 tbsp mixed dried herbs, I used thyme, rosemary and oregano
- olive oil for drizzling
- 1-2 tsp Smoked salt crystals, depending on how salty you like it
I use a stand mixer for this, but if you are making by hand, it’s simple to follow.
Place in the bowl of the mixer the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and 300 ml of the water. Mix on a low speed to start for about 2 minutes, until combined. Then slowly drizzle in the remaining 100 ml of water to the dough and continue to mix on a gentle speed. The mixture will slosh around a bit while it soaks up the extra liquid. If making this by hand, mix the ingredients in the bowl until gently combined but not fully, then add in the remaining water and gently squish it in.
When the dough is combined, knead it for 5 minutes. It is a sticky dough, so don’t think you need to add more flour.
Place in an oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise for about an hour in a warm place or until doubled in size. I put mine in the sunny window and add a warm hot water bottle to give it a helping hand as our house is always cold!
Oil a baking tray and remove the dough from the bowl into the tray. Flour your hands and squish the dough to the edges of the tray. Leave for another hour in a warm place. Pre heat the oven to 220 C/200 C fan oven.
Once it has risen again and looks softer and pillowy, with floured hands, make dimples in the top with your fingers.
Sprinkle with the herbs, drizzle generously with oil about 1.5 tbsps and sprinkle with the salt. I use smoked sea salt crystals for added flavour, but regular salt crystals are fine.
Pop into the oven for 20 minutes. It will have risen and turned a golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Drizzle with a little more oil.
This bread is perfect to serve on the side of soups, to make sandwiches or to simply dip into olive oil and munch away.