There’s a first time for everyone. Just like this bread I baked the other day. My first ever home baked bread. I never really wanted to make bread before. Frankly because it takes too long. With all the kneading, proofing, and waiting and kneading some more. I mean, why do that, when you can just buy it yourself? So whilst at home waiting, relaxing, watching a cooking show, as you do, I learned how to make Focaccia. It’s one of my favourite bread. I like it because it’s soft and I learned that it’s super easy to make. Yes, there’s still the proofing to be done, but at least in my mind I knew I could do it. It’s simple.
I must admit, while I was kneading and punching the living daylights out of that dough, I found myself having fun. In fact, I thought to myself that I should make bread more often.
It’s not perfect but when I look at it, I remind myself that it’s still bread. Looks like bread, tastes like bread. I do know for sure that I will be baking this again and I know it will be much better. Practice makes perfect. Right? Right.
The only problem was, when I was watching the cooking program, I didn’t write down the recipe (the show was Alive and Cooking). All I remember was there’s flour, salt, dry yeast, luke warm water and olive oil. Hmmm, just how much of those am I supposed to use? I checked their website for the recipe but I couldn’t find it. That resulted to me scouting the net for the most basic and simple recipe. Then I came across this recipe. I read it and sure enough, it was simple and it was similar to what I saw on TV.
Okay, let’s get started.
What you need:
2 2/3 cups of plain flour
2 tsp of dried yeast (this is about 7g or 1 sachet)
1/2 tsp salt
250mls of lukewarm water
2 Tbsp of olive oil
1 or 2 sprigs of Rosemary
100g of pitted, sliced kalamata olives
2 large mixing bowls
a wooden spoon
cling wrap/glad wrap
baking paper (optional)
and a very clean kitchen bench
What you need to do:
1. Mix 2 Tbsp of olive oil into the lukewarm water.
2. Combine flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon. Make a well in the centre and slowly add the water and oil into the flour mixture and mix with the wooden spoon. Once combined, use your hands to bring the dough together.
3. Lightly flour your kitchen bench. Place the dough on the flour and start kneading the dough for about 5-8 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
4. With a pastry brush, coat the inside of another large bowl with olive oil and place the kneaded dough in there. Brush a little bit of olive oil on the dough to lightly coat it. Cover the bowl with a cling wrap and leave it in a warm environment for about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
5. Place baking paper on a baking tray and lightly grease it with olive oil.
6. Punch down the dough with your fist or fingertips and turn the dough onto a lightly floured bench and start kneading the dough again for about 2-3 minutes.
7. Use a rolling-pin to roll the dough into an oval shape or rectangle (enough to fit on the tray) and place on the greased baking paper/tray. Brush a thin coat of olive oil on the dough and leave (uncovered) in a warm environment for another 30 minutes or until it has doubled in height.
8. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Make “dimples” or poke the surface of the dough with your fingertips. Remove rosemary leaves from the sprig and poke through the dough, spacing evenly. Scatter the olives on the surface of the dough. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until lightly golden and cooked through.
Transfer on a wire rack and serve warm.
– You can add or substitute any type of herbs to this recipe.
– I found that this recipe tasted almost like white bread but perhaps it could just be that I didn’t knead the dough enough or perhaps too much.
– Omit the olives and rosemary and this would be served well as a sandwich or burger bread.
– Perfect eaten warm and dipped in extra virgin olive oil.
– The use of baking paper is entirely optional. I used it as I was afraid the dough would stick to the baking tray.
– I used bottled olives for this recipe but fresh pitted olives would be a better alternative.
– Use fresh rosemary rather than the dry variant as the dry variant leaves a bitter taste once baked.