Tag Archives: Focaccia

Basil and Olive Focaccia

Basil and Olive Focaccia fresh from the oven.  © Sue Todd Photography 2015

Basil and Olive Focaccia fresh from the oven. © Sue Todd Photography 2015

This is a Paul Hollywood recipe from his ‘100 Great Breads’ book and is delicious.  If you haven’t come across this book I can recommend it.  Paul used all black olives which I didn’t have, so ours used a mixture of green and black and worked well.  Gary prefers green olives so he loved it though I think I’d prefer it with all black olives – but what is life without compromise?

This goes wonderfully well with Gary’s Tomato Soup and together they make a smashing lunchtime treat that is substantial and warming as well as really tasty.

Ingredients:  Basil and Olive Focaccia for 1 loaf

  • 500g or 1lb 2 oz strong white bread flour, and extra for dusting,
  • 1 tbsp salt,
  • 100 ml/3 ½ fl oz olive oil,
  • 30g/1 oz fresh yeast,
  • 300 ml/¼ pint of water,
  • 125g/4 oz pitted olives, black or green, left whole
  • a handful of freshly chopped basil leaves,
  • salt water – made using 30g/1 oz salt dissolved in 100 ml/3½ fl oz warm water

Method:  Basil and Olive Focaccia

If you like to knead your dough with your hands,  tip the flour, salt, half the olive oil, the yeast and water into a large bowl.  I prefer to use my KitchenAid Stand Mixer to do the hard work so I put my ingredients in there and mix on speed 2.  Combine your ingredients in the bowl, before turning it out for kneading – approx 6 minutes.  I like to use a floured marble slab for kneading, but actually these days I prefer to let my KitchenAid do the work, so it continues and my dough generally spends about 10 minutes in total being well and truly pummelled.

I like to lift the dough out of the KitchenAid bowl and quickly oil the bowl lightly before popping the dough back in and setting it to rise on the AGA.  But any oiled bowl and warm place will suffice.  Cover with a clean tea towel and leave it to rise until doubled in size, time for this will vary depending on how warm it is but generally it shouldn’t take longer than a couple of hours.

I like to lay a sheet of greaseproof paper/baking parchment on a tray now instead of greasing the tray – it makes removal of the loaf so much easier when it’s cooked.  Paul recommends a baking tray  with raised edges (a bit like one for tray bakes), but I used a trusty cold shelf for the AGA instead.  His way may make it easier to inset the olives though!

Once your dough has risen, mix the basil and 100g or 3½ oz of your olives into the dough.  This is a bit messy and the odd olive may escape – our spaniels keep a keen watch out for any such tasty morsel.  Next put the dough into/onto your flat or tin and flatten it out until it’s about 2.5cm in thickness.

Basil and Olive Focaccia, ready to eat.  © Sue Todd 2015.

Basil and Olive Focaccia, ready to eat. © Sue Todd 2015.

Brush the surface of your Focaccia with olive oil and press indentations into the surface using your fingers.  Set to rise once again for about an hour.

If you are using a conventional oven you’ll need to preheat it to 230°C/450°F/Gas Mark 8.

When it’s ready to go in, brush the dough with salt water before drizzling with what’s left of the olive oil.  Press the remaining olives into the surface of the dough before popping it in the oven.  If you are using an AGA, mine goes into the baking oven.

It will need to cook for around 20-25 minutes until its turning a nice golden brown.  Lift it from the oven and transfer gently to a cooling rack to cool.  This is where the parchment/greaseproof paper comes in very handy indeed – and it makes washing up a breeze too.

I think this works well with soup – see Gary’s Tomato Soup but it’s also great with cheese and makes a lovely light meal with a glass of wine.

Lavender Focaccia

Lavender and Garlic topped Focaccia © Sue Todd 2014

Lavender and Garlic topped Focaccia © Sue Todd 2014

You may be able to see a bit of theme here, between Lavender and Focaccia what with Lavender Macaroons and Blackberry Focaccia having already made it to the blog.  I was determined this summer to make good use of our Lavender and I’m trying to build myself up to going grain free again, so I need to get bread out of my system, though I love it so much that will be tricky.

I was searching for Lavender recipes when I came across one for lavender focaccia and thought it had to be tried.   This is my interpretation of the recipe from What’s Cooking America :  http://whatscookingamerica.net/Bread/LavenderFocaccia.htm with English measurements and a few little changes.

Not being one for eating flowers I was a bit dubious about this one.  This was my first attempt at cooking with lavender and to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect, however, it made for a wonderful surprise and its a bread I’ll be making again and again.  We ate it for lunch with Gary’s shin of beef with fennel and Chianti and it was a perfect match.

Lavender Focaccia served with shin of beef © Sue

Lavender Focaccia served with shin of beef © Sue Todd 2014

 

Ingredients:

  • 1tbsp honey,
  • 300ml of warm water
  • 7g dried yeast or 15g of fresh yeast
  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 2tsp salt
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 1tbsp dried lavender
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1tbsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Method – For the Bread:

You can mix and knead the ingredients by hand if you wish, but I like to use my Kitchen Aid, it does a far better job of that first round than I do.

Add the flour to your mixing bowl, followed by the salt, honey, and olive oil. Switch the Kitchen Aid to a low speed like 2, and begin to add the water.  If you are doing this by hand, make a well in the centre of your bowl before starting to add water.  Keep mixing and adding water until it forms a dough.  I find that depending on the flour you sometimes need a bit less or a bit more water, just keep an eye on it and aim for a nice soft dough that comes away from the bowl cleanly.

At this point either leave your stand mixer to knead the dough for about 10 minutes OR tip the dough out on to your work surface and knead by hand.  If the dough sticks to your hands add more flour, a little at a time.  With the stand mixer if the mix is too dry add a little more water, if its too wet then add a little more flour.  The dough should be really smooth.

Once you’ve finished kneading the dough needs to go into an oiled bowl to rise. This is the point where I juggle the dough in one hand while oiling the mixing bowl with the other so as to re-use the mixing bowl and save washing up.   Shape the dough into a smooth round and pop it into the oiled bowl.   If you are using a mixer you can manage this shaping in your hands without needing to clean up the work surface later.  Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and pop the bowl in a warm place for the dough to rise.  You can use cling film but it doesn’t feel very eco-friendly to do that somehow, because it’s not like you are going to wash and re-use it, unlike the towel.  The back of the AGA plate is ideal.

Leave to rise until doubled in size.  Time here will vary depending on how warm it is and if your yeast is good or getting old.  If you use dried yeast and have had it some time it may not work as well.  While its rising lightly oil a large baking sheet ready for your loaf.

A conventional oven will need to be preheated to 400F/200C or Gas Mark 6.  With the AGA it wants to go in the baking oven of the four oven version.  I can’t advise on the two oven AGA as the only one I’ve ever had the misfortune to use didn’t work often or well – through no fault of AGA I hasten to add, I managed to cook very little in that one.

Once your dough has doubled in size, lightly flour your work surface and knock the dough back gently before rolling it into a large rectangle.  Transfer the dough  gently to the oiled baking sheet, cover with a clean tea towel and let rise approximately 30 to 45 minutes or until it doubles in size once again.

Method for the Lavender Garlic Topping:

You can make this topping while your dough is rising.  Chop your lavender finely and mix it in a bowl with the garlic and the remaining olive oil, then set it to one side while you wait for the bread to rise.

Once your bread has risen for the second time, make little dimples in the dough with your fingers, then brush the topping all over the surface of the bread and into the dimples you’ve just made.  Finish it off by sprinkling coarse salt and pepper on top.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. The bread should be firm. Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool, before eating. Enjoy!  If you try it I’d be interested to hear what you think.

Blackberry Focaccia Bread and Butter Pudding.

Blackberry Focaccia Bread and Butter Pudding served with cream © Sue Todd 2014

Blackberry Focaccia Bread and Butter Pudding served with cream © Sue Todd 2014

What can I say?  It had to happen.  There was left over blackberry focaccia which it would have been criminal to waste and I had the ‘4 o’clock’ munchies coming over me, so I persuaded Gary to make me some bread and butter pudding with the left overs.  I’ve actually just polished off the final bit of that for breakfast!
Servings: ? That will depend on how much left over blackberry focaccia you have and how much of a portion you manage to limit yourself too.  I think we got about 8 servings from ours, though I may have had rather more of those 8 servings than anyone else!

Ingredients:

  • Left over blackberry focaccia,
  • unsalted butter,
  • 2 eggs,
  • milk
  • castor sugar (or better still vanilla sugar)

Method:

Slice the left over blackberry focaccia and butter generously, ideally with unsalted butter.
Lay in a flat, well buttered square dish overlapping each slice, butter side up.
Mix together two eggs and a good splash of milk.  Add a small handful of Vanilla sugar
or caster sugar and a splash of Vanilla Extract to the milk and eggs, whisking it together well.
Pour over the top of the blackberry focaccia and place in the baking oven of the Aga until its golden and yummy,  about 30-40 mins. Serve warm with cream.
Blackberry Focaccia Bread and Butter Pudding © Sue Todd 2014

Blackberry Focaccia Bread and Butter Pudding © Sue Todd 2014

Blackberry Focaccia

Blackberry Focaccia © Sue Todd 2014

Blackberry Focaccia © Sue Todd 2014

Having finally gotten some sort of harvest in an abundance of blackberries (thanks to the assorted wildlife who’ve eaten our garden), I wanted to do more than just the same old fruit crumble, not that there is anything wrong with fruit crumble.  So it was off to the web and off to my collection of cookery books and magazines.  Gary bought me Nigel Slater’s Tender volumes 1 and 11 for Christmas a couple of years back and it was there I found Nigel’s recipe for Blackberry Focaccia.  What a revelation!  Having said that I ought to have paid more attention to the number of servings – it serves 8 and there’s just the two of us! Whoops.   I’d like to add though that not a morsel was wasted.

Nigel thinks it is more suitable for tea than dessert, but we had some for dessert and it was delightful, and although he says it should be eaten while warm and doesn’t keep, we had some with coffee next day and it was still lovely.  I think it would be fabulous picnic food too.  We used what was left to make a bread and butter pudding – and that was delicious.

Ingredients – for the dough:

  • 450g strong white flour,
  • 7g dried yeast (or 14g fresh yeast),
  • 1tsp of sea salt,
  • 1tbsp of caster sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
  • 350ml warm water

Ingredients – for the topping:

  • 250g blackberries
  • 2tbsps olive oil
  • 2tbsps caster sugar (again I used vanilla sugar)
  • icing sugar for dusting

Method:

I always use my Kitchen Aid for bread making these days, it merrily kneads while I clear up and since I use the bowl to raise the bread, the only extra washing up is the dough hook.  It’s a ‘win-win’ kind of thing.  Simply put the salt, flour and yeast into the bowl, add the sugar and then as you start to mix it up add the water slowly.  You can either use a food mixer or combine the ingredients with a spoon before turning it out on a floured surface to knead lightly for about five minutes.  I just left the Kitchen Aid to get on with the kneading while I put stuff away.

Once done, it needs to go into an oiled bowl (Nigel says floured, but I always use a bit of olive oil or butter round the bowl) to rise.  I simply grab the dough in one hand from the mixing bowl, slosh a bit of oil into the bowl with the other hand and pop the dough back in, covering with a clean cloth and put it in a warm place to rise.  It should take about an hour, but it will depend on the temperature really.  I popped mine on the AGA and it didn’t take that long.

Once it has doubled in size its time to knock it back.  You then need to combine half of the blackberries into the dough.  This wasn’t as messy or as tricky as I’d envisaged.  Nigel recommends a shallow tray, but I always use an AGA cold tray for bread so that’s where it went. Now scatter the rest of the blackberries over the top of the dough and press them in gently.  Cover the dough and leave to rise for the second time.

Nigel states you need an oven temperature of 220C or Gas 7 if you have a conventional cooker, and you’ll want to preheat it.  I use the baking oven in the AGA.

Once your loaf has doubled in size again, its time to drizzle the olive oil over the top and then scatter your castor sugar before it goes in the oven.  Mine took a bit longer than the 45 minutes, but I did have to add a cold shelf above it to prevent it burning and give it time to cook to the centre.  Next time I think I’ll either make half the quantity as there’s just the two of us or if I’m making the full amount I’d cut the dough into two separate loaves after the first rising to make sure it cooks evenly.

Blackberry Focaccia fresh from the oven © Sue Todd 2014

Blackberry Focaccia fresh from the oven © Sue Todd 2014

It should be golden brown, crisp but still springy to touch when its done.  Let it cool before dusting with the icing sugar and then its ready to serve.  Enjoy!