Monday 8 October 2012

Rosemary & Garlic Focaccia

There can be few things to make and delight your diners that are easier than focaccia. The dough, softer than most breads but not as wet as ciabatta, can be put together the night before it is required and placed in the fridge to slowly develop both flavour and texture. The overnight stay in the fridge develops the gluten and eliminates the need to knead. The higher water content results in an open textured crumb, with a smattering of large holes.

For this loaf, you will need:

500g of Strong white bread flour
400g of water
10g of salt and
7g of Fast action yeast (1 packet)

For the topping:

1 tablespoon of rosemary leaves
2 cloves of garlic
4 tablespoons of olive oil.

Mix the dough ingredients until you achieve a very soft smooth dough. Place the dough in a polythene bag which you have already oiled with a little oil. This makes taking the dough out of the bag in the morning that bit easier. Place the dough in the fridge overnight.

In the morning prepare a large baking sheet (mine is roughly 38c by 26c by 3c) by lining it with a sheet of baking parchment I find if you lightly oil the baking parchment it makes shaping the dough a bit easier.

Take the dough out of the polythene bag and stretch & fold the dough one or two times. place the dough in the baking sheet and stretch to cover the base. The dough will tighten as you do this, don't struggle at this point, simply leave the dough for ten minutes or so at which point the dough will have relaxed and you can continue the task. The dough should  eventually be stretched to fully fit the baking sheet. Leave the dough to return to room temperature, this can take a few hours, especially in my house, during this time the dough will double in size.

Heat the oven to 220C.
Take the rosemary and garlic and crush in a pestle and mortar, you can also do this using the end of a rolling pin in a good stout bowl. Add the olive oil to the herb mix and continue to bash to infuse the oil with the flavour of rosemary and garlic. Pick the oily herby mix up in your hand and squeeze the oil out onto the risen dough. It's fine for a little rosemary debris to fall onto the surface of the dough but it's the oil that you really need to flavour this focaccia. Finally dimple the loaf using your fingers before popping into a hot oven 220C for 20 minutes.

Hedd made Focaccia

There are of course many ways of flavouring focaccia, you can chop up sun dried tomatoes, olives or fried mushrooms for instance and add them to the dough during the original mix. It's also possible to top the focaccia with alternative toppings; finely sliced red onion is good, simply slice up one red onion finely, toss in a little salt and a little olive oil which will help the onion to cook during the baking process, before strewing the fine slices over the surface of the focaccia. 

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