Focaccia

My incredibly yummy Focaccia recipe, pretty much fool proof and therefore a perfect 1st bread to bake…

“The smell of freshly baked bread is hard to resist, even more so for anyone dabbling in baking. As many others, I too have tried many recipes, some more successfully than others. This though is my fail safe, ‘to impress bread-baked-at-home’ recipe, one that was as good the first time I baked it to just this last weekend. Just follow the recipe exactly and go thru the notes before starting. while it does take time and therefore planning but it is well worth it, here’s my incredibly yummy Focaccia recipe, pretty much fool proof and therefore a perfect 1st bread to bake…”

Ingredients :

  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast OR a 7 gram pkt
  • 1 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar ( preferably castor)
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp vital wheat gluten (optional)
  • 2 tsp salt ( sea, himalayan or coarse, the best salt you have)
  • 1 tsp garlic grated
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary chopped fine OR 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp semolina

Method :

  1. In a stand mixture or a food processor bowl (dough attachment), add the yeast, warm water and sugar and let it froth (around 15 minutes). If the yeast does not bubble and froth, discard and use a fresh packet.
  2. Add flour, wheat gluten, salt and 4 tbsp oil and mix on low speed till it all comes together
  3. Add garlic and rosemary and knead on medium speed for 5-6 min till dough is smooth & soft (If dough is sticky add flour 1 tbsp at a time, if too dry add water 1 tbsp at a time)
  4. Take out of mixer bowl and knead by hand a few times till the dough is smooth and elastic
  5. Coat a bowl with oil and roll in the dough. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to prove for the first time for 1 hour till it doubles (if you feel it hasn’t risen enough, proof for a further 30 min)
  6. Take a flat pan (around 14 x 11 inches) and coat with 2 tbsp oil and sprinkle salt on the base
  7. Press the dough on all sides to fit the whole pan, as level as possible
  8. Turn the dough over and make holes with fingers pressed down
  9. Add 1 tbsp of oil in the holes and leave for 2nd proving for 30- 45 min
  10. Heat oven at 220°c for 1/2 hour
  11. Sprinkle salt, balance 1 tbsp oil & semolina and bake for 15-30 min till golden, crusty and delicious
  12. Eat as fresh as possible, reheat in oven for later

Notes:

  • Yeast:
    • I normally use active dry yeast and while some yeast can be added directly to flour, I always develop yeast in water & sugar to avoid a flat bread because of old or inefficient yeast
    • Do use as fresh yeast as possible to avoid disappointment
    • Use warm water only as hot water will kill the yeast and cold water will not help develop yeast. To test, water should feel warm once finger is dipped in it
  • For more information on vital wheat gluten, see thekitchn link https://www.thekitchn.com/vital-wheat-gluten-what-is-it-84612 ). I always add the wheat gluten as insurance so its yeasty and chewy
  • This recipe rests on the best ingredients, the Flour (bread flour or normal flour and wheat gluten), the Salt (sea salt is the best) and the Olive oil( good extra virgin)
  • This recipe takes around 4 hrs in total, if you are short on time, here’s how you can save one hour by proofing bread in oven
    • 1st proof bread dough- 40°c for 40 min (cover dough with damp cloth)
    • 2nd proof bread pan – 40°c for 25 min
  • Olives, Tomatoes or Parmesan can be added if you want to serve it on its own as a starter rather than with a main course as a bread
  • Finally it is true, baking bread is therapeutic, try it…

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