Bread…is there anything more heavenly than the smell of a freshly made loaf of bread? The taste of a gorgeously crusty loaf smeared in french butter? Not in my opinion. I love bread, all types, but it doesn’t love me.
Bread normally makes me ill, until I travel, and go somewhere where it’s all fresh bread and then miraculously I can eat bread again. I never really thought about it much and resolved to stay away from bread or buy GF bread that doesn’t seem to upset my stomach. I was chatting to the head chef at a cooking course I was on and he mentioned that quite a few people who can’t eat most commercially made bread, can’t eat it because of all the additives put in to extend the shelf life of the bread.
I was then on a mission! I am baking like a mad women (pastry, bread, you name it) and so far, so good! I am happy to limit myself to freshly made bread but now I need to widen my horizons.
Bread isn’t particularly difficult to make, but it IS time consuming. This loaf takes less time to proof than a normal loaf and baked up into a gloriously garlicky loaf drizzled with olive oil and maldon sea salt. Oh my this was good, and can be customised with any number of lovely toppings like olives, rosemary or thyme, caramelised onions, feta, you name it!
I kept mine simple, as it was a first attempt, I will get a bit wackier next time. the only thing about freshly made bread is that it doesn’t keep well and in fact is best eaten the day it is made. I will turn the rest of the loaf into some lovely bread crumbs, the are just begging to be used to coat my chicken to make chicken parmesan.
This loaf starts with a rustic bread dough, with the addition of olive oil instead of extra water to bind the dough together.
Focaccia bread recipe
|Prep time||2 hours, 30 minutes|
|Cook time||40 minutes|
|Total time||3 hours, 10 minutes|
|Meal type||Appetizer, Bread, Lunch, Snack|
- 1.5 teaspoons dried yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 500g strong white flour (Can sub 50g of flour for strong wholemeal for a granary feel)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 150ml warm water
- 150ml olive oil
|Begin by mixing the dried yeast with the water and allow to stand for a few minutes. Put the flour and salt in a bowl, and make a well in the centre. Pour in the yeast mixture. With your hand used like a claw, mix the flour in from the sides of the well and keep going, adding the olive oil as required to achieve a soft, sticky dough. Turn the dough out into an oiled surface and knead for a good 10 minutes to achieve a smooth, almost silky texture.|
|Place the dough into a warmed and lightly oiled bowl (with lots of room for growth) and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place until risen and at least doubled in size. Approx 1-2 hours)|
|Knock back the dough and turn out into a lightly floured surface. Knead briefly and form into the desired loaf shape. For focaccia, shape into an oblong shape and push your finger into the dough to create regularly space indents. Place on a floured baking tray and cover with a dry tea towel and leave to rise again (15-30 minutes depending on how warm the room is).|
|Finish your loaf by pushing in the indents again, drizzle on more olive oil on top, rub in some finely chopped garlic and sprinkle some maldon sea salt on top. Optional toppings: sundried tomatoes, olives, pesto, red onions, rosemary, thyme.|
|Place a tray of cold water into the bottom of the oven on the shelf underneath the bread, The evaporating water will help the bread to rise. Place the load into a hot oven 180 celsius for about 40 minutes until well slightly risen and a nice golden brown. Place the hot loaf onto a wire rack to cool.|