Friday, March 27, 2015

Focaccia Fancy

The smell of olive oil reminds me of my grandmother, the late Wilhelmina Soans ( nee Tholar), which is every day since I use olive oil in all my cooking.   One whiff is enough to take me back in time and I can see her gently  admonishing us to take good care of our complexions.  Every night, before we slept she would open her cabinet ( a source of great interest to me) and give each of us girls a ball of cotton dabbed with olive oil to clean our faces. Once done and we had passed muster, we were dismissed to our  bedrooms and fell asleep with the delicate smell of olive oil on the air.  

All of us love bread and I have been baking a lot of breads of late.  

This recipe is from and I am very grateful to her for sharing this recipe on I get most of my recipes from there. And I have also changed the recipe to include the ingredients that I have in my kitchen.

The Recipe:

Focaccia is a  flat Italian bread, that can be used as a base for pizzas, paninis, sandwiches and toast tips. The yeast-based wheat bread comes in flat rounds, brushed with olive oil and often dusted with herbs.

Prepare a 10" x 15" Swiss  roll pan by coating it liberally with olive oil.
I finally got to use my pan which I bought ages ago.
For the Dough: 2 tsp. salt;4 cups ubleached flour; 5 Tbsp. olive oil; 2 tsp. active dry yeast; 1 and 2/3 cups warm water (about 110 degrees); 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh coriander leaves; ¼ tsp  finely dried Mixed Herbs.
For finishing:
3 Tbsp. olive oil;  ¼ tsp salt which was more than enough; 1 tsp. chopped coriander leaves:
¼ tsp Mixed Herbs
In a large bowl, stir the salt into the flour and rub in the oil with your hands, making sure it is evenly absorbed by the flour.Add the chopped herbs in and mix them in with a fork.  ( Rubbing oil into flour with your hands, makes the flour absorbs it incredibly quickly and the flour still feels quite dry ).
In a small bowl, whisk the yeast into the water, and use a plastic spatula to stir it into the flour mixture.  Stir vigorously to make an evenly moistened dough that does not need to be very smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature until it has doubled in bulk.   I usually place the dough to rise in my cooking area which is warm and dry.
Once the dough has risen,  spread it evenly on the swiss roll pan with the palms of your hand. I used my right hand only.  The dough should be elastic and very easy to spread out.  If you cannot do it let it rest for another 10 minutes before you spread it out. Cover the dough on the pan with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise in the pan until it is puffy, for approximately 30 minutes.
About 15 minutes before you are ready to bake the focaccia, set a tray in the lowest level of your oven, and preheat the oven to 220 Degrees C.
Use your fore finger to press the dough at 1 and 1/2" intervals. Drizzle olive oil all over the bread (it will puddle in the indentations) and sprinkle the herbs and salt.
Bake the focaccia until it is deep golden in color, about 30 minutes. Check the bottom by lifting a corner up carefully with a spatula before removing it from the oven, to make sure the bottom is well-colored as well.
Slide the focaccia off of the pan and onto a rack to cool.  Cut into squares and serve warm.  Wrap the leftovers in foil and heat it up another day.  

I must say this turned out really good and we all enjoyed eating it.

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