“Tuck it into Bed”
With the sun coming out strong, what better time than to this classic Italian bread.
(Notice, with me living in London, I did not claim it was in any shape warm…)
Focaccia is an important type of bread for me ’cause it was the one bread recipe I learnt off by heart and would regularly and consistently make. Out of the oven, this bread fills the air with a lovely aroma thanks to the sun-dried tomatoes and rosemary.
The ingredients are the same for a typical white loaf of bread, except for a large amount of olive oil. The surface “dimples” give the bread more surface area to easily absorb both the oil and the additional flavours. In this instance I’m using rosemary and sun-dried tomatoes. Special mention must also be made for the sea salt, which is a rather important ingredient as it brings out the flavour of these added ingredients. Of course, if you are worried about your sodium intake then feel free to omit or reduce.
Making the bread involves combining your dry ingredients with the liquids, but take care when first placing the dry ingredients in your bowl. As can be seen on the left-most image, the yeast is kept needs to be kept separate from the salt as salt can kill the yeast. Inversely, use tepid water to reactive and encourage growth form the yeast. Do not worry if the dough looks unpleasant at the start, with it being tinged yellow with olive oil and it being a terrible texture. After 10 minutes of kneading you’ll have a nice smooth dough… I assure you.
Now others may opt for placing their cling film over the top of the bowl, fearing that wrapping the dough itself will prevents its expansion, but I’m very much in the school of “tucking it into bed”. The goal of the seal is to prevent air getting at the bread so either method is fine.
Yeast works best in warm temperatures and you can “cheat” the proving time by placing it in a warm area. In my case, my girlfriend had just finished using the oven, so I left my dough on the oven door, allowing the residual heat to warm it. It usually takes between 1-2 hours, but leaving the dough in warm places can drastically reduce the proving time.
The goal is have the dough double in size. You can see between the above photo and the previous ones that the dough has now managed to reach the rim of the bowl.
Once again, the dough won’t be the prettiest when shaping it to the form of the baking tray, but again I assure you that texture is a fine thing and, by using your fingers, further texture in the form of holes will be added.
The flavourings are pressed into the dough, which is then left to prove again, thus enveloping the ingredients. Finally, additional sea salt and oil is added before the focaccia is placed into the oven to bake.
With its light golden brown crust and the colour of the rosemary and sun dried tomatoes, I think it is a lovely looking bread and it is one of my favourites. I hope you all give it a go and also enjoy my Rosemary and Sun-dried Tomato Focaccia.
- 450g strong white flour – plus extra for dusting ~£0.30
- 7g fast action dried yeast -£0.17
- 5g caster sugar -£0.01
- 1tsp salt -£0.01
- 250ml tepid water
- 50ml olive oil – plus extra to drizzle ~£0.18
- 120g sun-dried tomatoes ~£1.45
- 5g rosemary ~£0.12
- 1tbsp sea salt -£0.01
Total cost for 1 foccacia ~ £2.25
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, caster sugar and salt
- Create a well in the center. Pour in half the water and oil. Knead for approximately 10 minutes while continuing to add water until the dough turns soft, elastic and shiny.
- Using cling film, cover the dough in the bowl. Set aside for 1-2 hours until it doubles in size.
- Preheat the oven to 220C. Line a baking tray with oiled baking paper (and semolina/polenta if available).
- Knock out the air in the dough and spread the dough on to the baking tray.
- Force small indentations into the surface of the foccacia with your fingertips. Press the sun dried tomatoes into these indentations and scatter rosemary leaves and the sea salt over the foccacia. Generously drizzle more olive oil and set aside, covered with cling film, for 20 minutes.
- Cook in the oven for 25 minutes until the top is golden and crisp.
- Slide off the baking sheet and leave to cool slightly. Best served warm.