This month Belleau Kitchen’s Random Recipe Challenge is simply called ‘Bread’. Dom asked us to select a recipe from our baking books or the baking section of our books. I did my random draw and came up with the very flamboyant ‘Bernard King’s Summer Kitchen’. OK then….. Thankfully Bernard didn’t have any bread, bakery or even dessert items in his book. I’m sure I remember him singing about doughnuts in his theme tune to ‘King’s Kitchen’. Anyway – no bread so move on. Next book plucked out – The Silver Spoon. No bread products except pizza bases. Next book – Charmaine Solomon’s Asian Cooking for Beginners. No bread again. So, I reviewed the situation and realised I had no baking books and most of my other cookbooks didn’t have a baking section or bakery items. Time to get serious! A fairly small list of all baking sections and random baking newspaper clippings, magazine rip outs and Internet printings was compiled. Finally, after triple proving, the recipe rose to the surface (that’s a hilarious baking joke) – Rosemary Focaccia from that well-thumbed cookbook, The Guardian: Weekend. The recipe is by a little known cook, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
I’ve made focaccia before but never using this recipe. I chose to make it for family before we headed out for dinner to celebrate a birthday. It’s quite a forgiving recipe so if you’re not an expert baker, you can still have a go at it. I must admit that I did cheat on the rules slightly by adding in a handful of olives and semi dried tomatoes to amplify the Italian theme of the evening. If you have time, the triple proving ensures the focaccia has a lighter texture. It’s certainly not diet food but I enjoyed every crumb.
Best wishes to Dom and a speedy recovery so that you too can enjoy every crumb!
- 500g strong white bread flour (I successfully used wholemeal)
- 10g fine salt
- 7g dried yeast (1 sachet of Tandaco brand)
- 1 tsp honey or sugar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp olive oil (extra)
- 1 tbsp sea salt (extra)
- Rosemary sprigs
- Empty yeast into a small bowl and combine with honey or sugar
- Add 350ml lukewarm water – not too hot! or it will kill the yeast
- Gently mix yeast and water, set aside in warm spot for 5 minutes to allow the yeast to bubble and activate (my tip if it’s a cold day is to pop it in the microwave with the door closed – but do not turn the microwave on!)
- Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Add yeast mixture to bowl and mix to a rough, soft dough. Add oil and squish into dough.
- Scrape the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough for 10 minutes. It can be sticky so you may have to dust your hands with flour occasionally.
- Oil a large bowl, place the dough into it and cover with a piece of clingfilm that’s been oiled to stop the dough sticking.
- Set aside in a warm, draft free area for an hour or so until the dough has risen and doubled in size. This is called ‘proving the dough’.
- When ready, gently knead in the bowl for a few minutes to deflate the dough. This is called ‘knocking back’.
- Set aside again and allow the dough to rise.
- When ready, place the dough in a lightly oiled baking (lamington) pan 25 x 35cm. Gently press it out to the corners so the dough covers the entire base evenly.
- Lightly oil the dough with extra olive oil, sprinkle with extra sea salt and rosemary, cover and set aside for 20 minutes.
- Just before you place the dough in the oven, press a finger into the dough at regular intervals to make the indents that you see in focaccia.
- Bake at 230c for 15 – 20 minutes, Turn down heat to 200c after 10 minutes if browning too fast
- Remove from oven when golden, allow to cool slightly and the cut. Best served warm but can be cooled and re-heated the next day.
- I added the olives and semi dried tomatoes when I was knocking back the dough the first time. If you are adding ingredients, remove the dough from the bowl, stretch is lengthwise, scatter with the extra ingredients and then knead for a minute to try to distribute them evenly. Shape back into a ball and return to the bowl for second rise (prove). Continue with directions above.
- The recipe calls for another tablespoon of olive oil to be drizzled over the focaccia when it comes out of the oven but there was more than enough for oil for me already.