Making bread is really one of those things that is good for the soul.
There is something inherently soothing about not being able to rush. You cannot rush the kneading of the bread if you'd like the gluten to develop properly. You cannot rush the proving time which allows the gluten to relax and form into the long protein chains which in effect become the structure of the end bread. You also cannot rush the actual baking of the bread or pop it on a higher temperature to quicken the bake unless you want a burnt crust and a mushy centre...so if you're short on time, making bread is not really something you should take on at that time.
I definitely encourage each and every one of you though to take on the bread challenge at some stage. I mean, the aroma of bread baking in the kitchen is just beyond words - intoxicating, comforting, hunger-inducing, it's just glorious!
With so much baking at home happening during this recent Covid-isolation business, I took to making different breads to keep the family happy. I made traditional loaves, dukkah rolls, poppyseed breads, banana breads...and this focaccia, this glorious focaccia which always disappeared (aka was gobbled) within half an hour of coming out of the oven - it's super delicious!
There is a little extra elbow grease involved in making it but oh my goodness it's so worth it! The olive oil, the rosemary, the olives, the saltiness, it's definitely the most requested bread in this house!
I hope you try it out and of course don't forget to tag me on your socials when you make it so I can see the recipe come to life in your kitchens!
Take care, happy baking!
For the dough:
- 3 ½ cups bread flour (plain flour works too)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons instant dried yeast
- 1 1/3 cups warm water
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra to coat
For the topping:
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 12 pitted black olives, halved
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for brushing
- Sea salt flakes
- Place the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the water. Bring together with your hands and knead in the bowl for a couple of minutes. Add the 1/3 cup olive oil and knead the oil into the dough for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic (dust your hands with flour as you go, if needed, as the dough is a little sticky).
- Fold the outside edges of the dough into the centre of the bowl, flip it over in the bowl and then cover every surface with a little extra oil. Cover loosely with a greased plastic wrap, then cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size (note this could take longer than an hour in a cool room).
- Generously brush a shallow baking tray with oil. Fold the outside edges of the dough into the centre and lift the dough carefully onto the oiled tray. Push your fingers into the dough to spread the dough out across the whole tray, leaving firm indentations in the dough. Top with the rosemary and olives. Lightly brush the whole surface with the two tablespoons of oil. Leave to rise for about half an hour or until lovely and fluffy.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200C. Once the focaccia has sufficiently risen, sprinkle the sea salt flakes over the top and pop in the oven to bake for 25-28 minutes, turning once halfway through baking, until golden and crispy.
- Remove from the oven and brush with a little extra oil for shine. The foccacia is best served warm.