• Michelle

Focaccia - Back to Basics 30

Back to Basics 30! Well, that is a milestone for us to share. Let’s make something really special, a gorgeous tray of focaccia so good and so easy you will never need to buy it from the shops again.

I love to make breads and this bread is one of my absolute favourites, I make it in a big tray, then cut it into portions, split it so it is ready for filling and then freeze, this way my people can just fish one out of the freezer, fill it up and pop it in the oven for a nice dinner, or take one for lunch. Sadly, I can no longer eat this focaccia myself, but I will show you one I can eat, we shall make a gluten and dairy free focaccia together very soon for the rest of us.



Ingredients

410ml warm water

6g instant yeast

a pinch caster sugar

525g strong flour

6g salt

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for kneading, plus extra for drizzling

extra flour for dusting


Stir your yeast and caster sugar into your warm water and set aside for ten minutes or until it begins to bubble.

Tip your flour and salt into a large bowl, make a well in the middle, pour in one tablespoon olive oil and your yeast mixture. Give it all a good wind around with your hand until you have a squidgy dough, like this -


Let that sit and think about life for ten minutes, then pour a bit of oil onto your bench and smear it into a big circle and then turn your dough out onto it. Knead for ten or twelve turns of the dough, if you are not sure how to do this pop into our Back to Basics Two (Two! Such a long time ago!) recipe, simple white bread.

So knead for ten or twelve turns until the dough starts to get tight and resist your hand, that’s it, like this, see how this dough is tight and holding it’s shape?



It needs to go back into the bowl and rest for another ten minutes. Repeat that step three times resting for ten minutes in between, by now the yeast should be really enjoying itself and the dough should be starting to swell and bubble in between kneads. When it looks like this


(see, glossy and bubbling under the skin) it is ready for the next step. Okay, so we have just kneaded it so it is all tight again, let it mull things over for ten more minutes in its bowl, then when it is relaxed I want you to toss a bit of flour over your bench, yes, flour this time, no more oil, and turn the dough out on it.


That is looking wonderful. Dust your hands with a bit more flour and now I want you to stretch this wonderful dough out into a big rectangle. No rolling pins at this stage, what we are doing is opening up our holes that are in the dough, stretching the gluten so that they can expand even more and give us that beautiful open texture that really good focacacia has, like this -


Keep going, a bit more, stretch it out as big as you can.


Good, try not to tear it, but if you do that is okay at this stage. Now fold it over in three like this -


And fold it in half like this -


And leave it to sit and relax for twenty minutes. Do this three times in total, by now you should have a very elastic and pliant dough that is full of life and holes, let’s cut it open and have a look -


Gorgeous! If you have cut yours open like I have then you will need to stretch and fold and rest for twenty minutes again, if you have taken my word for it and not cut your beautiful dough in half you are ready for the next step.

Now I will let you have a rolling pin. Dig out the tray you are going to use, I use a 26x40cm tray, line it with baking paper and now GENTLY roll and pull your dough into a rectangle just a bit bigger than your tray, no squashing, we want the air bubbles, so gently does it. Lift your dough and drop it onto the tray, being careful not to tear it -


Now gently pull it to the edges, if it argues with you and says it wont go all the way to the edge, walk away, let it sit for five minutes and relax and then it should stretch easily to the edge of the tray.


Gorgeous. Now, let that sit for about twenty minutes while you heat your oven to 200 degrees C fan forced.

Right, oven is hot, dough is nice and relaxed and puffy, now we are going to put our makers mark on it, with your fingertips push down all over the dough to make divots like this -


Now drizzle with olive oil and give that a little smear around with your fingertips, now, what do you want to top it with? I have decided on rosemary and garlic, but sesame is lovely, nigella seed, even just a light dust of salt, whatever you want to top it with, now is the time -


Now into your hot oven for fifteen minutes, then reduce your heat to 190 degrees C fan forced and cook for a further 15 - 20 minutes until golden brown.


You can see here that I have made two, I am a pretty big believer in ‘if the oven is working it should be full’, this will give me some for the freezer and one tray for my beloved Jo and Moon Brother, if you want to make two just double the ingredients and cut the dough in half before the final fold and stretch. Let’s cut it open and have a look, a good focaccia should have a honeycomb like texture.


Perfect! Let’s make a sandwich for Mr T.


Am hungry now. Come back soon and we will do a gluten and dairy free one, then I can have a sandwich too.

Xxm

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