Focaccia

I really ought to make this more often.

Fairly standard bread recipe: make a dough using 500g flour, 350mL water, 10g posh sea salt, and 30mL of nice olive oil. Mix, knead on an oiled surface, form into a ball, and let it rise, covered, somewhere warm, for an hour or so. (If the flour is strong enough to take more water than that, get stuck in. A wet dough is good.)

No fancy shaping required. Knock back the risen dough, stretch it out, and push it into a baking tray; all the way to the edges. You could also just stretch out your ball into a circle and put it in the middle of a baking sheet. The stretching action after the first rise helps produce the big irregular bubbles. If you think your tray might stick, then pop a sheet of baking paper on the bottom first, and maybe not quite go to the edges. In the case of this batch, the 800g of dough fitted nicely into a 10″ × 14″ baking tray, resulting in a layer of dough about half an inch thick, which is about what you should aim for.

Cover with cling film, and allow to rise again. You could also do the second rise in the fridge, obviously you’d need longer, which would suit an overnight rise, or perhaps whilst you were way during the day.

Dressing your focaccia is more fun than dressing your dolls or teddy bears. The classic approach is to brush the top with olive oil, sprinkle with flakes of sea salt, and bung in the oven. Be fairly generous with the olive oil, so the top crust fries as well as bakes!

Twenty minutes only: first ten as-hot-as-it-gets, second ten about 180ºC. Don’t forget to poke holes in it with your fingers to get the traditional appearance. Poke all the way to the bottom.

You could pop a needle of rosmary into each hole if you like. Or you could put sliver of garlic  instead. Maybe some whole or sliced olives? Or sundried tomatoes?

Caution. If you have any more than the merest hint of topping, the foccaccia will emerge soggy and doughy. Peppers in particular will suddenly ooze water at the wrong moment.


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