I always thought I didn’t really like focaccia, but I promise you this beauty bears no resemblance to the heavy stodge that you buy from the supermarket and reheat at home. Focaccia is a light, crispy bread, heavy on olive oil and infused with a variety of additional ingredients. The general rule is if it cooks inside 15 minutes, it’s fine to use on your loaf.
Here is the summary of what I learned on an Italian breads course at the excellent Bread Ahead bakery school in Borough Market…[alert type=”muted” close=”false” heading=”Ingredients”] [icon_list] [icon_list_item type=”check”] 500g strong white flour [/icon_list_item] [icon_list_item type=”check”] 10g salt [/icon_list_item] [icon_list_item type=”check”] 400g room temp water [/icon_list_item] [icon_list_item type=”check”] 6g of fresh yeast, or 3g of dried (See notes below)[/icon_list_item] [icon_list_item type=”check”] 35g olive oil [/icon_list_item] [icon_list_item type=”check”] Course sea salt and seasonal produce to top (in this case, olives, tomatoes and rosemary)[/icon_list_item] [/icon_list] [/alert]
- Combine the flour and salt in a bowl In a different bowl dissolve the yeast in the water.
- Bring the flour and water together to make a loose, wet dough. Tip it out onto an unfloured worktop and ensuring the bowl is scraped clean
- Now you need to tear and stretch the dough to break up the gluten. Using the heel of your hand push the dough into the surface and away from you to form a 12-15 stretch, then pull it back with your fingertips. Use the scraper to pull it all back together into a lump every now and again. Do this for 8-9 minutes.
- Add the olive oil to the clean bowl and return the dough to it.
- Now you need to work the oil into the dough. This is done by folding it. Turn the dough in the oil ensuring it gets a good covering, then get your hands under the far side and pull it up, stretching it enough for you to layer it back over the top. Rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat until you have done this 4 times. This constitutes one ‘fold’.
- Cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes, then repeat, giving your dough 4 more complete ‘folds’ with half hour between each.
- Gently turn the dough onto a well oiled tray, and lightly rub the remaining oil from the bowl over it. Then use your fingertips to create dimples in the top.
- Start shoving in a few halved tomatoes and whole olives or whatever else you’re using, then chuck on a generous handful of rosemary and a sprinkle of salt crystals
- Rest for 20-30 minutes, place into a pre-heated oven 250c and spritz the oven generously with water to generate some steam
- Bake for 15 minutes then, when golden, remove from the oven, drizzle with more oil and enjoy!
[/alert] [alert type=”info” close=”false” heading=”Essential Bread Making Tips…”] [icon_list] [icon_list_item type=”lightbulb-o”] Quality flout makes quality bread – spend the extra pennies on organic, stone milled flour [/icon_list_item] [icon_list_item type=”lightbulb-o”] One key point I learned on the course, is that you must make dough today for bread tomorrow. This is to give the yeast time to ferment, fermentation is what develops the flavour that will make your bread memorable. Once you finished all the folding, store it in the fridge overnight. [/icon_list_item] [icon_list_item type=”lightbulb-o”] If you want to make the dough then bake the dough, you need to triple the amount of yeast. [/icon_list_item] [icon_list_item type=”lightbulb-o”] If you’re using dried yeast, look for ‘dried activated’ yeast. This stuff does NOT need to be reactivated with lukewarm water and a tsp of sugar and can be either dissolved in cold water as per fresh yeast, or mixed in with the flour [/icon_list_item] [/icon_list] [/alert]