I told myself if I were to bake my first bread, it should be Focaccia. My love for pasta makes me crave for this flatbread. This bread is always a perfect accompaniment for pasta or as a starter.
Focaccia (pronounced as foh-ka-cha) is a flat oven-baked Italian bread, similar in style and texture of pizza but not considered as pizza. It may be topped with your favorite herbs, meats or other ingredients. It is usually seasoned with salt and olive oil.
I have adapted this recipe from my favorite Yummy magazine November 2011 issue as well as from my baking bible book ‘Baking.’ Instead of flour, I used the whole wheat type and add some black olives and fresh rosemary leaves.
This first attempt in bread making is almost a perfect one, but I still have to practice more on kneading the dough. My herb garden provided me the required fresh rosemary. Thanks to my team mates who gave me the plant last year as a birthday surprise, now I first used it in making focaccia!
Here’s what we need:
¾ cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ tablespoon salt
1 ¾ cups bread flour
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1 tablespoon resomary leaves
¼ to ½ teaspoon salt
How to prepare:
1. In a mixing bowl, combine lukewarm water, honey and yeast. Stir until well combined. Leave for 5 minutes or until mixture forms bubbles. Do not use hot water or else the yeast will be killed, remember that yeast is a living organism we need to make breads rise.
2. Add extra virgin olive oil and salt and then combine. In batches, add the flour and mix using a wooden spoon. Continue mixing and stirring until the dough forms a mass and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
3. Knead until mixture forms a smooth elastic dough, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle some flour if the dough sticks to your hands and into your flat working surface.
4. Transfer dough to a greased bowl cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let it rise in a warm area for about 45 minutes to one hour or until it doubles in size.
5. Liberally grease a 10 inch round pan or a rectangular pan with 2 tablespoon oil. Press dough into the pan, cover and leave to rest for another 15 minutes.
6. Flip dough so that the oiled surface is facing up.
7. Gently press dough towards edges of pan. Using your finger tips and knuckles, make dimples on dough. Embed with pitted black olives. Drizzle with remaining oil. Sprinkle with herb and salt.
8. Now again, leave it to rise in a warm area until double in size, about an hour.
9. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Celsius
10. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until top is golden and crisp.
11. Cool completely in a wire rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days or refrigerate for longer shelf life.
Tips from my baking bible:
To test whether the dough has risen enough, poke two fingers into the dough. If the indentations remain, the dough is ready to use.
You can make a bread sticks out of this! There’s no need for the first rising of the dough. Just divide the dough into walnut-size pieces and roll out on a floured surface with your hands into thin long sausage shapes. Transfer to greased baking tray, cover and leave in a warm place for 10-15 minutes. Bake until crisp.