I fancied a different kind of bread today, so I searched out a recipe I had saved from the Observer Magazine back in 2009. It's wondrously easy to make focaccia, and it doesn't take all that long, either. The results certainly look impressive....
The recipe is a Nigel Slater one, but it's very similar to all the other focaccia recipes I looked at. You need bowl to mix it in, a container to bake it in and a worktop to knead it on.
The container needs to be a couple of inches, or 5cm, deep, and about ten inches, or 24cm across. I used a round one, but use what you have....
- Put 450g of strong bread flour in a bowl, with up to 1½ teaspoons of salt (I used quite a bit less, as I have fairly high blood pressure) and a 7g sachet of fast-acting yeast.
- Add 400ml of warm (not hot, it'll kill the yeast) water.
- Mix it into a sticky dough.
- Put flour on your work surface, tip out the dough onto it, and knead it for five minutes. There's no special technique, just keep folding it over and stretching it out. If it sticks to the surface, put more flour down. You can stop kneading when the dough doesn't stick to the work surface any more.
- Put some flour in your bowl, and put the dough back in. Cover it with cling-film or a tea towel, and wait until it doubles in size. Up to an hour, if your kitchen is at a normal sort of temperature.
- Put the oven on at 220°C, or maybe as low as 200°C for a fan oven. Ovens vary, and you just need to get used to the one you are using.
- Lightly oil your baking tin, and sprinkle it with cornmeal (polenta, ground maize) to stop the bread sticking.
- Put the dough in the tin, cover it loosely with cling-film, and let it rise for half an hour.
- While it rises, chop up some green olives, garlic, parsley, and thyme. Mix them into a tablespoon of olive oil.
- When the dough has risen, put flour on your fingers, and push them into it, quite deeply, in an artistic fashion. Or clumsily, if you prefer. Sprinkle the oily olive and herb mixture on the top.
- Bake it for about half an hour. It should be pale gold on top, and crispy.
- Drizzle it with more olive oil, if you like. Let it cool.
- Eat it.
Mine came out like this. I was hoping for more variation in the size of the holes, but maybe there are bigger ones further in. The olives and garlic on top seem a little bit crisp, but I'm pretty pleased with this one.