Friday, 25 March 2011

Foolproof focaccia

My love for all things bread-y has been growing since having a lightbulb moment about how easy it is to make. There's something immensely satisfying about forming a loaf with your own hands, it's all very elemental and basic. Me cavewoman, you Italian artisanal bread.

I made this focaccia loaf to accompany a pea risotto for a good friend who momentarily paused her wanderlust to come and visit for Sunday lunch. And since I honestly can't imagine anything more appetising than a warm loaf emerging from the oven, it seemed a good welcome home dish.

I like this recipe because, unlike some I've seen, it's relatively easy and fuss-free. No unpleasantly sticky doughs that need to be repeatedly folded. Yes, there's some kneading but it's less than ten minutes if you give it some welly, and it's worth it for the oohs and aahs your efforts will receive.


500g strong white bread flour
7g instant action yeast
2 tsp fine salt
2 tbsp plus extra for oiling the pan
1 tbsp clear honey
320ml warm water
1 large onion, halved then sliced into 3mm slices
1 tbsp caster sugar mixed with ½ tbsp salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp flaked sea salt

1) Toss the onion in the sugar and salt mixture in a bowl then allow to sit for 45 minutes before thoroughly squeezing out the juices that emerge.

2) Stir the honey into the water and add the yeast. Leave for a few minutes until it begins to bubble, then mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl and pour over the water a little at a time, until you have a thick, not too sticky dough.

3) Turn the dough out onto a clean, floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, until it feels springy and smooth.

4) Grease a 35x25cm deep tray with a little of the olive oil, then stretch the dough into roughly the shape of the tray, and place inside. Now pour over the rest of the oil and use your hands to push the dough into an even layer in the tray. Poke deep indentations into the dough with your fingertips, then sprinkle over the garlic and onion.

5) Cover with clingfilm and leave somewhere warm to double in size, then bake at 425f/220c/gas mark 7 for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the flaked salt whilst still warm.

1 comment:

  1. This looks delicious! I will definitely be trying this out, and then topping with fresh basil, avocado and mozarella...


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