Focaccia

I'm back!!  It feels like this blog hit a pause before it even really got started, but with traveling a lot, working full time, and being a mum there just hasn't been much time left over for anything else.  Thankfully the second half of this year is looking a lot quieter with regards to travel, so I am trying to prioritise my time better to enable me to post regularly and really make an effort to expand on what I have started.  

I hate to do anything if I don't feel that I can give it my all, and make a good job of it, but I have realised that with food styling and photography it is not going to be something that I will be good at overnight.  I don't like to give up though so I'll keep practicing, and hopefully, my recipes sound tempting enough that you will want to try them.

So to kick things off again I am posting one of my signature bakes, focaccia is something that I make at least two or three times a month, and is always welcomed by friends and family.  I have mentioned before that I love making bread, and I like this focaccia because it is such a great accompaniment to so many meals.  One of my good friends is Italian and the fact that she said it reminded her of the focaccia that she buys at home was the highest praise that I could hope for!!

RECIPE

Ingredients

For the bread:

500g Strong white bread flour

1 1/2 Tsp Easy blend yeast (I use the Doves Farm brand)

1 Tsp Salt

3 Tbsp Olive Oil plus extra to coat the dough

400ml Warm water

Toppings:  

Focaccia is perfect just topped with some fresh herbs and garlic but I usually add some juicy cherry tomatoes and sweet red onion.

6 Cherry tomatoes

1/2 Red onion

2 Cloves of garlic, crushed

1 Tbsp White wine vinegar

3 Tbsp Olive oil

Method

  1. Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl, add the yeast and salt, and mix well to combine.
  2. Pour the 3 tbsps olive oil into a measuring jug, add the water and stir well with a fork so that the oil is distributed through the water.
  3. Make a well in the middle of the flour and gradually add the water-oil mixture, using a fork to stir the flour into the liquid until it comes together as a ball of dough.  Please note that flours vary so you may need to add slightly less or slightly more water depending on your flour.  You want just enough liquid to bring all the flour together without leaving your dough sticky.
  4. Once your dough has come together tip out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until you have an elastic dough that is quite smooth and you will find that you don't need any extra flour to prevent it from sticking to the work surface.
  5. Transfer the dough to clean bowl, drizzle with more olive oil and use your hand to coat the entire ball of dough with the oil.  Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for approximately an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. Whilst the dough is rising prepare your toppings.  I normally slice the cherry tomatoes in half, and mix them together with the garlic, white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. I then slice the red onion into three pieces. 
  7. Once your dough had completed it's first prove tip out onto a clean work surface and push out the air.  You shouldn't need to flour your work surface as the oil coating the dough will prevent it from sticking.  Then use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to approx 25 x 30 cm rectangle.  Then, with the longer side in front of you, take both the left and right side of the dough and fold one over the other like an envelope so that you end up with a triple layer of dough.  Then using a combination of the rolling pin and your hands, roll/stretch the dough to fill your baking tray.  I use a rectangular tray that is 30cm x 23cm and is quite heavy which I think helps to get a nice crisp base.  It doesn't have to be perfect and if it isn't a rectangular shape that is absolutely fine.  
  8. Then use your fingers to push indentations all over the surface of the dough and you are ready to add your toppings.  I top with the red onion and tomato-garlic mixture and then drizzle the remaining olive oil from the tomatoes all over the surface of the dough.
  9. Again place in a warm place and leave to rise for about 30 minutes until it has risen and almost doubled in size again.
  10. Whilst the dough is rising preheat your oven to 220 degrees centigrade.
  11. Once the bread has risen, once again, use your fingers to press deeper indentations into the surface of the dough.  Drizzle with some more oilve oil and sprinkle with some sea salt.  
  12. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until golden and crisp on the outside but soft on the inside.

There's nothing better than crisp, soft, warm focaccia fresh from the oven.  Perfect as an accompaniment to a pasta dish, or I love it on its own dipped in some more olive oil and some balsamic vinegar.