Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Festive focaccia!

I have been making bread dough for pizza bases for a while now, but have only recently started trying to turn the dough into bread instead, and have been surprised by how easy it is (and cheaper than buying posh garlic bread from the supermarket - plus you can put whatever toppings you want on it!). It's great for a party, and you can easily double the quantities if you want to make more.

I've tried a few slightly different recipes, and this one is the one that seems to be the most effective. This time, I topped one loaf with garlic and rosemary, and one with sunblushed tomato (and more garlic!). Utterly delicious, and I will definitely be making it again (regularly!). 

500g strong bread flour
1 7g packet of fast action yeast
About half a pint of hand-warm water (or perhaps a little more)
2 tsps sea salt
2 tsps golden caster sugar
Olive oil

To top it:
Good olive oil
Sea salt
Chopped garlic
Sunblushed tomatoes
(or anything else you like - red onions, cheese etc)

1. Mix the sugar and yeast into the water, and leave for a couple of minutes.

2. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt - make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and water mixture. Mix together with a spoon until it becomes clear you need to get your hands in.

3. Bring all the ingredients together with your hands, and place on a floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes, until elastic.

4. Place in a large, oiled bowl and rub the top of the dough with olive oil too. Cover with cling film, and place in a warm spot (I put mine by the radiator) for an hour and a half, until roughly doubled in size.

5. Once rise, remove the cling film and 'punch' the dough back down. Re-cover it, and leave it for 10 minutes or so.

6. Take the dough out onto a floured surface again, and knead for a couple of minutes. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out until about 2cm thick. 

7. Place the dough into an oiled tin or onto an oiled baking sheet. Using your fingers, make little indentations in the top, and scatter with your chosen topping. Rub or brush all over with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt.

8. Cover with cling film again, and leave in a warm spot to prove for 30-45 minutes, until visibly puffed up - this should be very obvious!

9. Remove cling, and place in a hot, pre-heated oven (about 220 C) for about 15 minutes, or until starting to brown on top.

10. Remove from tins and leave to cool slightly before drizzling with a little more oil, and slicing.

This recipe made 24 squares of bread, and is probably enough for 10 hungry people.