Thursday, 31 January 2013

Focaccia bread

Never made this before and was a little unsure how it would turn out, but wanted to try it in preparation for a new invention. It was SO much easier than I expected - though I categorically would not knead it by hand. The kind of sloppy dough in this recipe is precisely what I got the dough hook for.

Yet again, the basic recipe I used was from Paul Hollywood's How To Bake (because they always work), and I made half the published quantity - so one substantial bread rather than two.

250g strong white flour
5g fast-action yeast
5g salt
70ml olive oil, plus extra for kneading and finishing
180ml cool water
sea salt and Italian herbs, to finish

Place the flour in the mixer bowl. Add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other, then add 20ml of the olive oil and most of the water. Using the mixer's dough hook, set the machine to minimum and let it mix slowly until all the dry ingredients have been picked up from the side of the bowl. Add the rest of the water if it's needed in order to incorporate those ingredients. Now add the remaining olive oil, set the mixer on low to medium, and leave the hook to work its magic for 6 to 8 minutes, until the dough is soft and elastic. Remove it from the bowl and knead it by hand on a lightly oiled surface for a little longer until it is smooth and elastic. The consistency we got made a good bread (see film). Place the dough in an oiled rectangular plastic container (helps keep the shape) that will allow the dough to grow. Cover with a tea towel and leave it to rise for about an hour.

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and then lightly oil the paper itself. DON'T punch the air out of the dough once it has doubled in size (Dan was most disappointed about this). Instead, tip it on to the baking tray and gently stretch it out - maintaining as much of the air as possible - until it is even and flat. (That said, when I was stretching the dough, some areas fell completely flat and I thought it would end up crisp and hard in those places. Turned out OK.) Put the tray inside a clean plastic bag and leave to rise again for another hour. After half an hour, turn the oven on to 220C (425F, gas 7). 

When the dough is ready for the oven, make regular dimples in it by pushing your finger right down to the baking tray. Brush it with olive oil, sprinkle it with sea salt flakes and Italian herbs, and bake for 15 minutes. Once it's out of the oven, brush with a little more olive oil. To be honest, this was one of the most delicious things I have ever taken out of an oven.

1 comment:

  1. I'd say keep it in the family with Nigel's OFM focaccia recipe from years back. He even includes a cherry version.