For July's challenge for “Fresh From the Oven”, everyone has been asked to find their own recipe for focaccia and change up the toppings and/or herbs to their own preferences. I have opted to make Linda Collister’s Focaccia with rosemary and sea salt from her “Baking Bible”.
This recipe is more time consuming than most recipes (with 3 risings) but the focaccia has a lovely flavour and a light open texture. The trick here is not to overload with olive oil. As the ingredients are very basic, it is important to use good quality ingredients. I have used Maldon sea salt and Joseph - 2008 cold pressed extra virgin olive oil from Simon Johnson - Melbourne.
Focaccia With Rosemary And Sea Salt
15g fresh yeast, crumbled (or 7g easy bend yeast)
280ml water (room temperature)
6-7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary, plus extra sprigs for top
500g unbleached white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
For top garnish:
Sprigs of rosemary
2 teaspoons course sea salt.
You will need a 25 x 35 cm baking tin. Preheat the oven (and an oven stone if using) to 220C (425F). In a small bowl, add the yeast to half of the water and cream to a smooth liquid (if using the easy-blend yeast, add the sachet with the chopped rosemary and put all the liquid in to the bowl at once and proceed with the recipe). Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and the remaining water. Add the salt, chopped rosemary and half the flour, Beat into the liquid with your hand. When mixed, work in enough of the remaining four to make a soft but not sticky dough (I used all the flour and it was just perfect).
Place the dough on to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes (or up to 5 minutes at low speed in a mixer fitted with a dough hook) until very smooth and silky, Place the dough in to a lightly oiled bowl and turn the dough over so the entire surface is coated with the olive oil. Cover with a damp tea towel (I use a large shower cap over the bowl which doesn’t touch the surface) and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size – about 2 hours.
Uncover and knock back the dough. On a slightly floured work surface, shape the dough in to a rectangle. Press into the base of the baking tin, letting the dough relax a few minutes to get it into the corners and patting it out to get an even layer. Cover with a damp tea towel let it rise once again until it has doubled in height (45 - 60 minutes).
Flour your fingers or the end of the handle of a wooden spoon and press into the risen dough to make 1 cm deep indents. Cover with a damp tea towel (yet again) and let the dough rise until doubled in height - about 1 hour.
Uncover the dough an place fresh sprigs of rosemary in the indents and fill them with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake in the preheated oven for 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let it cool.