On days when we aren't out on the plot we're quite keen on a bit of baking in our house. Today was one of those days and the weather felt suitably cold outside to inspire a bit of bread making - the perfect activity for a winter morning when you're pottering around the house. Today I decided to have a go at making focaccia which is relatively simple to make and deliciously tasy to eat.
One of the joys of focaccia is that it doesn't require too many complicated ingredients to get started. In fact, if you've got a basically stocked store cupboard you will probably already have most of the things you need in the house. To make two large loaves you will need:
- 500 g strong white bread flour
- 10 g sea salt flakes, crushed
- 2 x 7g sachets of fast action dried yeast OR 18g fresh yeast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- fine sea salt, for sprinkling
And here's what you need to do to make your bread:
- Place the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir in your dried yeast. Make a well in the centre of the bowl and add the olive oil along with 300ml of cool water. If you are using fresh yeast you will need to crumble this into the water before adding it.
- Use your hands to gradually mix the flour and liquid to create a dough. Massage the dough for 5 minutes then very slowly add about a further 100ml more water.
- Work the dough in the bowl for around 5 minutes. Stretch it using your hands then fold the stretched dough into the centre. Turn the bowl 80 degrees then repeat the stretching and folding process.
- When the 5 minutes is up, tip the dough out onto a well-oiled work surface. Knead well for a further 5 minutes.
- Oil your mixing bowl and return the dough to it. Cover it clingfilm and leave to rise at room temperature for about an hour and a half or until the dough has increased to about 4 times its original size.
- Gently tip your dough out onto a floured work surface (you need to try and keep as much air in the dough as you can). Divide the dough in two and put each half in a baking tray. Gently press out the dough, pushing it into the corners of the tray.
- Leave the dough to rise again at room temperature for an hour or until it has doubled in size.
- When it is ready place the trays into a pre-heated oven to 220*C / 425*F / gas mark 8. Just before doing this drizzle with a little more oil and sprinkle with fine sea salt, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
- The focaccia is ready when it can be tipped out of the tray and the bottom is brown. Sprinkle with a little more olive oil and serve hot, or allow to cool and serve the next day. Once cooled wrap in clingfilm and keep for 24 hours - just before serving, sprinkle with olive oil and reheat in a 220*C / 425*F / gas mark 7 oven for 5 minutes.