Bread...the most basic, well loved and pleasurable food in all of the universe. Even so, making it at home is considered to be a tedious and complicated job. But really, its simply flour, water and yeast creating magic in your oven. And nothing quite beats the taste and smell of home baked bread….
“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight…M.F.K. Fisher,
Focaccia is a very popular Italian flatbread. Its absolutely a breeze to make this at home…not fussy at all. Its great for entertaining; simply cut it into little squares and serve with various dips or just some good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You can change the toppings to your liking…mushrooms, onions, olives, jalapenos, sea salt, rosemary or you could even leave it plain.
This is my basic focaccia recipe, I’ve been using for many years now. Every time I get a gorgeous flavourful loaf, soft yet chewy and deeply satisfying!! Over the years, its transitioned from an all purpose flour to a wholewheat bread. Wholewheat flour adds a certain nuttiness to the finished product. It can also make the bread dry and coarse, but that can be easily remedied by making sure the dough is well hydrated. This is a fabulous dough for making pizzas as well. But that’s another post!! For today, I’m very happy with this garlicky bread full of fresh herbs with little bursts of cheese and juicy cherry tomatoes here and there… drizzled with some balsamic glaze.
Wholewheat flour – 260 gms
Salt – 1.5 tsp
Yeast, dry active – 2 tsp
Warm water – 250 ml plus extra if needed
Sugar – 1 tsp
Olive oil – 4 tbsp plus 1 Tbsp for drizzling on top
Fresh Basil, Oregano – 2 Tbsp, chopped
Crushed dried red chillies – 1 tsp
Cheese – 50 gms, diced
Cherry tomatoes – 12, halved
Garlic cloves – 4, sliced
How to :
Mix warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Keep it in a draft free place for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is frothy.
Combine the flour, salt, chillies, chopped herbs in a large bowl.
Make a well in the center and pour in yeast mixture and olive oil. Form a dough and turn out on a well floured surface.
Knead the dough using the heels of your hands pushing the dough away from you and fold the top half of the dough back towards you, and press down. Then press out again, stretching and folding back. If the mixture feels too dry, add water, 1 Tbsp at a time. Knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes. You should get a slightly sticky, soft, smooth dough.
Transfer this dough to a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place it in a draft free place for about 1 1/2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
Pre heat the oven to 200 C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Take out the proven dough on a floured surface. Gently deflate the dough and flatten the dough a bit. Sprinkle over the cheese. Gently fold over the dough a few times to make sure the cheese is distributed evenly.
Using a rolling pin or your hands, stretch and flatten the dough to make a 12″ oval. Place the halved cherry tomatoes, cut side down and garlic slices all over the surface. Drizzle over 1 Tbsp of olive oil and let it proof again in a draft free place for about 45 minutes.
Once its risen, place it in the preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.
Transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool for 15 -20 minutes before tearing in!!
I’d love to hear from you about your bread baking experience!