Today I am going to share one of my favourite recipes of all time, focaccia! This recipe I have made for about 4 years and is my brothers favourite thing I bake. My Geography classmates tend to ask me to bring it back to school after holidays and even organised a baking evening so that I can bake this with them one weekend, so this is a very special recipe of mine! I originally got the recipe from the Hairy Bikers but have adapted it to suit me and the flavours I want to include.
Here's how I do it:
The dough: The topping:
- 500g strong white flour, plus - 3tbsp olive oil
extra for dusting - 2tbsp flaked sea salt
- 1x7g sachet of fast action - 1tsp coarsely ground
dried yeast black pepper
- 1tsp caster sugar - Rosemary
- 1tsp fine sea salt - Cherry tomatoes
- 2tbsp olive oil, plus extra
- 300ml warm water
- Put the flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl (put the sugar and salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast on another as the salt kills the yeast so the bread won't have a successful rise), mix together gently with your hands so that the yeast, sugar and salt are no longer visible. Create a well in the middle of the flour and pour the olive oil into the well followed by the warm water. With your hand mix in the liquids until fully combined to make a dough and make a rough ball.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes to make a smooth, pliable and fairly soft dough. This is kneaded (an enjoyable pun) to stretch the gluten in the flour and create a better rise. Transfer the dough back to the bowl and cover with cling film and leave to rise somewhere warmish to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size, in the summer (provided its not raining) outside in the sun as it gently heats the dough creating a nice rise.
- Lightly oil a large baking tray, doesn't matter what size, I tend to just use what I can find but the Hairy Bikers suggest 36 x 25cm. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface, (depending on what size tin you have) cut the dough into 2, if you have the tin size the hairy bikers suggest you don't need to do this, then press the dough into the rough shape and size of the baking tray, then place it on the tray and press to the sides as much as possible.
- Now, gently poke your fingers into the dough randomly to create the traditional holes you see in Italy. Cover with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cut the tomatoes in half and place onto the dough, you can press them in if you like but the dough will rise around them so this is not necessary. Take the rosemary leaves off their stalks and scatter on top of the dough, I also like to use the sprigs of the top and poke them into the holes.
- Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for another 30 minutes to prove. Preheat the oven to 200'c. After 30 minutes, the focaccia should look puffed up and spongy. Use your finger to make the holes deeper, reaching the bottom of the dough.
- Bake the focaccia in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes or until well risen, golden brown and when tapped it sounds hollow. Transfer to cooling wrack and enjoy!
Like I said this is one of my favourite recipes and it never fails for me. It is delicious to have with pasta on warm summer evenings and even made into paninis with mozzerella or cheddar and ham! The toppings can also be varied depending on what you want, for example adding caramelised onions works well or making it into a heart shape for valentines day if you have that shaped tin, it looked quite impressive on the day of love!