Focaccia

I can barely contain myself at how amazingly amazingly gorgeously cool and scrumptious this was. It’s not my recipe…. Come on, even I don’t use that many semi-made up adjectives to describe my food!

The pastry chef at work makes beautiful focaccia for the lucky lucky diners every night and I asked him how to make it the other day, I wasn’t prepared for the instant recipe that came out of his mouth, and then when the answer to  my ‘Where can you by sourdough?’ question was, ‘ummmm, you have to make it’ I decided focaccia possibly wasn’t for me. But, never fear Hugh Fearlessly-Eats-it-All to the rescue and his book entitled….hang one while I search for it on my shelf….’River Cottage Every Day’ has a MUCH easier recipe for focaccia in it.

It’s not a quick task I’m not going to kid anyone that this is an after work before dinner thing. It’s a weekend treat, and make sure it’s a treat because it looks so good that you’ll eat it all way too quickly! I did half of Hugh’s recipe and used a normal cake tin as I was only feeding two of us.

250g Strong White Flour
5g Salt
3g Fast Action dried Yeast
1 tbsp Rapeseed or Olive Oil

To finish
Lots of rapeseed or olive oil
Chopped up Rosemary
Flakes of sea salt
Cherry tomatoes
Black Pepper

  • Put all the flour, salt and yeast into a bowl and mix it all up
  • Gradually add 175 ml warm water to the flour and mix it up to a rough REALLY sticky dough
  • Dig the dough out of the bowl and plop it onto a highly flour’d surface, make sure you scrape all the gooey dough from the bowl – don’t worry, it’s supposed to be this gooey
  • Flour your hands, have some more flour ready and knead the dough until it is silky smooth, this will take around 10 minutes of heavy kneading, it’s hard work and effort is ‘kneaded…’ (sorry) to get it really smooth.  You’ll need to add flour while you knead, but do this through havcing a flour’d surface not by adding flour to the dough – if that makes sense
  • Mould the dough into a round bun shape, gently cover with some oiled cling film and leave to rise for an hour, maybe 3 three hours until it’s doubled in size   
  • While it’s rising, liberally oil a normal cake tin and sprinkle the base with salt
  • When the dough has doubled, place in a lightly floured surface and knock back (knead it again in other words) and make it into a round the size of the cake tin
  • Squidge it in and prod your fingers into it so it resembles normal focaccia – yup those dips aren’t from some amazing baking magic – but from your fingers! Don’t put your fingers all the way through the dough though
  • Leave it to rise again for an hour or so
  • Pre heat the oven to its highest temperature – mine goes up to 220 degrees C
  • Splot the cherry tomatoes into some of the dips
  • Sprinkle rosemary over the top and lots of lovely olive or rapeseed oil and lashings of salt – now do you see why I said it’s a treat….?
  • Pop it into your hot hot oven and turn the temperature down immediately to 180 degrees and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until it’s beautifully browned and sounds hollow if you tap it
  • Take it out of the tin and leave it to cool on a rack
  • Drizzle more lovely oil over it and more salt
  • Serve. Either on its own or with some lovely charcuterie

It’s not healthy, but it looks awesome, tastes amazing and burns a few precious calories during the kneading process.

I have, in case you didn’t notice, discovered rapeseed oil. I spent many summers at school loathing rapeseed partly due to the name – it doesn’t exactly endear itself to teenage girls. But also becuase a great many of my friends were rendered pretty much unable to breath, see or speak once it came into flower. So great was the power of the pollen that eyes streamed uncontrollably, noses blocked and the school was rife with the sound of sneezes. I was blissfully unaffected – now in my twenties I only have to look at a picture and I get tearful – I now get the grown up hayfever which is obviously much worse! Sorry I’m waffling – rapeseed oil is, in my opinion, a pretty good apology from the plant to us hayfever suferers, it tastes great and is a rather good alternative to oilve oil every now and then. I don’t prefer it to my beloved olive oil but it’s quite nice to chop and change – keep the old tastebuds guessing.

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2 thoughts on “Focaccia

  1. I LOVE baking bread. Its probably one of my favourite things to do in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means an expert but the whole kneading the dough and punching the crap out of it is a great stress relief especially after a hard day/week at work. Then its the rising part. Just to see biology, chemistry and physics all in action is amazing to me (ok, I’m geeking out a bit now).
    I’ve not made focaccia before, but the principal is pretty much along the same lines as regular bread. I guess I’ll attack the rosemary bushes and sprinkle over a generous helping of wonderful Maldon salt. We don’t have any rapeseed oil but your “waffle” was enough to add it to my list! When we designed our new kitchen last year we included a small unit with two shelves to the left of the range which would house oils, vinegars and similar cooking items (Lea & Perrin’s etc…). Since starting the blog its now totally packed and can’t fit any more in after cramming in extra virgin and regular oilive oil, vegetable oil, sesame oil, groundnut oil, truffle oil, sunflower oil, sunflower spray, olive oil spray, malt vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, white balsamic vinegar and Worcester sauce. I think we need a rethink of how we do this Houston…
    Thanks for the post – I’m going to try it this week and will send a pic of how it goes.

    1. Oh! You and Lolli make my day with your comments, you really do! Thank you! I loved making that focaccia. Make sure you only do half or it’ll be too squashed in the tin. Good luck and send me a pic! I wish I had that many oils but I only have 3 – E V olive, sesame (rarely used) and Rapeseed! Can’t find truffle oil but think that when I do find it I’ll be too stingy to buy it!

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