Thursday, 10 June 2010

Focaccia - Italian Bread

I love Focaccia. It is a quick bread to make and perfect served with salads on hot sunny days. Try the black olive version with a mozzarella and tomato salad drizzled with an extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.

Alternatively you can adapt the bread recipe by adding a selection of your own flavours.  Goats cheese and caramalised red onions are a very good combination, or for a simple flavour just add some sage, or some rosemary with coarse sea salt.

30g/10z fresh yeast or I sachet dried yeast
225ml/8fl oz warm water
450g/1lb strong plain flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil.

1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
2. Sift the flour with the salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the dissolved yeast and the oil. Gradually draw in the flour and when the ingredients are all well mixed, knead the dough for 8-10 minutes.
3. Put the dough into a greased bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place (for about 1 hour).
4. Knock back the dough and shape as required. For Focaccia make into oval and place on an oiled baking tray. Add olives and rosemary and cover with clingfilm again. Leave to prove (rise again) until it is 1½ times its original size.
5. Preheat the oven to 230 C/450 F/gas mark 8.
6. If using course sea salt in the Focaccia add to the bread before baking. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on top of the bread and bake the bread for 10 minutes ad the turn the oven down to 190 C/375 F/gas mark 5 and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until it is cooked. Transfer to a wire rack until cool.

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