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Food and Recipes

Italian Focaccia Bread


Jenny Faulkner - Freelance Cook

 

This is a fantastically easy and yummy bread to make, it will be gone in no time! The instructions may seem a little complicated at first but once you have done it once it’s easy peasy.

 


 

Ingredients

500g Good Italian Bread Flour (00 – double zero)
250ml Warm Water initially, more as needed
1 tbspn Sea Salt
14 gm dried yeast
1 tbspn Honey
Plenty of Good Olive Oil, a good idea is to use left over oils from marinated vegetables such as olives, sun dried tomatoes etc
Olive pieces, Garlic, Rosemary and Sea Salt for garnish

 

Method

1. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl, form a well in the centre.

2. Add the honey to the warm water and stir until dissolved. The water should be warm enough that you can put your finger in comfortably and touch the bottom. Too cold and the yeast will not generate, too hot and it will die.

3. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the water and stir in gently, leave to stand for around 15mins until you get a nice big froth (about 2”)

4. Pour the yeast mix into the well made in the flour and mix well (by hand or mixer with a dough attachment) until a sticky wet dough forms. This is the time to add the extra water if necessary, don’t be worried if you add a little too much, better too much than too little.

I once made a mistake with the water measurement making Focaccia, it was so wet I couldn’t get it off my fingers and kneading was out of the question (I just kind of slopped it around in a panic to agitate the gluten) It actually turned out nice and moist in the end, but washing up was a nightmare!

5. Leave to proof in a large oiled bowl somewhere nice and warm, covered in cling film for one hour or until doubled in size.

6. Remove and knead for 5-10 mins then tease out dough gently to suit a lightly oiled square roasting tray (it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t fit exactly as it will rise to fit the space).

7. Pound garlic and rosemary with plenty of olive oil, dimple the surface with holes by poking your finger in and pour/spread the mixture over the dough, then press the olives onto the bread.
Sprinkle over some sea salt, but not too much as the bread has plenty of salt in.

8. Cover with a warm damp tea towel and place somewhere warm to proof for 30 mins or until doubled in size.

9. Bake at 180 degrees for about 25-30 mins, cool on wire rack.

10. Drizzle additional oil over as soon as it comes out of the oven – don’t be shy – Olive oil is good for you!- this makes the bread moist on the inside and crusty in the outside.

Eat on same day or keep for up to 4 days in fridge. Older bread can be toasted or sprayed with water and baked in the oven as crusty bread for soups or stews.

Top Tips

The key to great Focaccia is the Italian 00 flour (pronounced double zero) as it is lower in gluten and protein and produces a much better dense soft bread. Regular flour gives a drier, less tasty result.

If your kitchen isn’t so warm, turn on the oven and place the dough on the top to proof.

To get the perfect temperature water, boil the kettle and put some in the measuring jug, add cold water until the perfect temperature, then pour out the excess!

If by any chance this isn’t eaten immediately, you can freeze it; I wrap cling film around it then pop it in a freezer bag.


 

Jenny Faulkner

thefreelancecook@yahoo.com

Tel +33 (0)6 26 71 02 27
 

Saturday, 23 April 2011    Section: Food and Recipes
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