Monday, August 08, 2011


Thought I'd write a quick post about the joys of Focaccia, which is an Italian flat bread for those of you not familiar with it. I first tasted Focaccia when I was an exchange student at the Italian University of Padova, and have loved it ever since. It has a light yet doughy texture, with a subtle chew, and is very often cooked with crusty salt and herbs - my favourite way of preparing it.

Two shallow Focaccia ready to go in the oven
The best thing about Focaccia as far as I'm concerned is that it can be prepared so easily - that is if you have a bread machine at least. Not that I bake bread in a bread machine, that really wouldn't be possible with Focaccia. It's the kneading and rising side of things that I use it for. Some people love to knead I know, they see it as a source of relaxation, but to me it's simply a pain in the hands!

My bread machine is an old Panasonic model, well over ten years of service but never misses a beat. It has a good selection of different settings, but only one is much used in my household, 'Pizza'. This is only a 45 minute cycle, but provided you give your dough a good hour or two once the bread machine cycle has run then, it works well for a whole range of different Italian style flat breads, not least of which is Focaccia.

Here's the recipe I use. This amount will do for a large lasagne style deep dish, or for two regular flan dishes as shown in the pictures.
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 450g Bread Flour
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 275ml water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for coating the pan and for drizzling)
The method is quite simple:
  1. Empty the yeast into the bottom of the bread machine bucket, add the flour on top, then sprinkle with the salt and the sugar, pour on the water, and finally add the olive oil.
  2. Let the machine run the Pizza cycle or similar, then leave the dough undisturbed for an hour or so.
  3. After the hour is up, pour a generous amount of olive oil into a deep baking dish and empty the dough out into it. Turn the dough in the olive oil to coat it, knocking it back and pushing firmly into all the corners so that it fits the rectangle. Leave for another hour or so somewhere warm, covered in a tea towel.
  4. After the second hour is up your dough should be quite risen. Now push your finger deep down into the dough, but not quite to the bottom, to make the characteristic holes. Scatter generously with rosemary leaves and sea salt, and drizzle with more olive oil.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200ÂșC for 15-20 minutes until as brown as you prefer.
  6. Leave to cool briefly, for as long as you can resist that gorgeous, soft, herby and salty delight ...
Topping and other flavours can be added according to season and taste, this year my wild garlic with caramelised lemon zest worked particularly well.

Wild garlic and caramelised lemon zest at the front, plain wild garlic at the back.

If you'd like to see more pictures of my Focaccia's being prepared, head over to my Focaccia pictures in Picasa Web Albums.


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