Rosemary, Garlic and Olive Focaccia
an easy peasy bread
Focaccia is an Italian olive oil bread. It is flat and can be of any shape – round, square, rectangle or as individual portions. The focaccia dough is much softer than normal bread dough. It has a cake like texture and doesn’t need to be kneaded as much as the normal bread dough. A variety of toppings or fillings can be used to make focaccia. The most important ingredient besides olive oil is herbs. During our visit to Italy we were fortunate enough to taste different varieties of focaccia. Some with toppings of mozzarella and tomatoes, some even with aubergine. First time bakers, go ahead and try your hands at this simple but scrumptious bread.
photo courtesy Namrata Patel
ROSEMARY, GARLIC AND OLIVE FOCACCIA
about 8 pieces
oven temp 200°C
3 cups of strong plain flour or bread flour
1-1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2¼ tsp active dry instant yeast
3 tbsps olive oil
topping or filling :
10 -12 olives black or green, sliced
1 sprig fresh rosemary – remove the leaves and chop
1 tsp coarse sea salt to sprinkle on top
1-2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 tbsps olive oil
for greasing the baking tray
2 tbsps olive oil
extra olive oil for greasing
- If you are using normal dry yeast, then you need to ferment it first. Put the yeast in one cup of warm water along with the sugar. Cover it and let it ferment for 10 mins. The mixture will have become frothy.
- Sieve the flour into a bowl. Add the salt and oil and mix well.
- Add the fermented mixture or instant yeast and remaining water to the flour. Turn the dough onto a work top or board. Sprinkle a bit of extra flour. Knead the dough till it becomes soft and smooth. I prefer to knead it for 5 -10 minutes. Depending on the flour, if required, add more water as dough should not be hard.
- Oil the bowl. Place the dough in it. Rub oil over the dough. Cover and set it in a warm place to rise till it becomes double the size. This usually takes about 1½ -2 hours.
- Knock the dough down. That is, gently punch the dough with your fist.
- Add olives, rosemary and garlic to it and gently mix into the dough. If you want to use it for topping only, then omit this stage.
- Grease a baking tray with the 2 tbsps of olive oil. I used a 25×35 cms tray. You can make it round or square. Shape the dough as required. Spread the dough into the greased tray. Use your fingers to spread it, much like as though you are hitting on the piano keys.
- Sprinkle the 2 tbsp of olive oil over the dough. Sprinkle the sea salt over it.
- Let it rise again till its nearly double the size. It will take about 30 minutes.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 15 – 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Let the bread cool down completely on a wire rack.
- Cut into pieces/ wedges. Serve with salad, soup or as a starter.
Tips : some topping or filling ideas
- garlic and oregano
- mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, onions, peppers and herbs
- cheese and herbs
- green chillis, herbs and cheese
- feta cheese and rocket
- If you don’t get fresh herbs use dried herbs.
- I prefer to add the filling to the dough so that during baking it does not get burnt.
- If you want a thinner bread, use a bigger tray.
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