Saturday 27 May 2017

Focaccia al rosmarino (Rosemary focaccia)

Focaccia al rosmarino
Focaccia al rosmarino

The aroma of the rosemary toasting as the bread cooks will draw neighbours from near and far. As yeast breads go, focaccia is very easy to make, though patience is a key ingredient.

I leave my dough to rise in a hot press or outside on a sunny day. I know a lady in Sicily who leaves the dough on the bonnet of her car after driving. Makes two loaves.

You will need

2½ tsps dried yeast (or 1x7g sachet)

1 tbsp sugar

450ml lukewarm water (more if required)

700g Italian ‘00’ or strong white flour

2 tsps salt

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 large sprig rosemary

Sea salt

1 Mix the yeast and sugar in the lukewarm water and allow the yeast to activate. When the yeast is frothy, it's ready to use.

2 Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl and add the salt, olive oil and yeast mixture. Mix to a soft dough, adding more flour or water as required. Knead until the dough is very pliable, which should take about seven to 10 minutes by hand.

3 Leave the dough to rise in a well-oiled bowl covered with clingfilm until the dough has trebled in size and is springy to the touch, which will take two to three hours. This will rise best in a warm, draught-free place, eg a hot press or near a cooker or oven.

4 When it has risen, knock the dough back and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead it again by hand for two to three minutes. Then divide the dough into two pieces and roll or press them out until the dough is 1cm thick.

5 Place the pieces on to two oiled baking sheets. Flatten the dough and push it into all four corners of the sheet, then make indentations with your fingertips. Drizzle the surface with olive oil, pull the leaves from the rosemary sprig and scatter them, along with the sea salt, on top of the dough. Allow the dough to rise again for 30-45 minutes in a warm place.

6 Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 230°C. Bake for five minutes, then reduce the temperature to 200°C and bake for a further 10 minutes.

TIPS A stand mixer is very useful for bread making. Use the dough hook to knead for five to seven minutes, then continue with the recipe by placing the dough in a well-oiled bowl for rising. Replace the rosemary with chopped sage or oregano and tuck some small balls of mozzarella into the indentations.

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