Black olive, cheddar and thyme focaccia loaf
The simple combination Mediterranean flavors make this bread a good pair with Italian or Greek dishes; it also makes a great center piece for the table. I recommend serving it warm and sliced with small bowls of good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping
Yield (makes): one loaf (serves 12)
Prep time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 15 minutes
3 ¾ cups (360 g) Strong white bread flour
¾ cup (180 ml) Warm water
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon dried active yeast
2 ounces (50 ml) extra virgin olive oil
½ cup (100 g) Feta cheese (cubed)
¼ cup (50 g) Black olives
2 tablespoons Fresh Thyme (chopped)
½ cup (50 g) Parmesan cheese (grated)
1. Mix the yeast, sugar and a small amount of the warm water together in a bowl to activate the yeast.
2. Mix together the flour, Parmesan cheese and salt.
3. Add the yeast mixture and then the rest of the warm water and olive oil to the flour and parmesan cheese mixture.
4. Mix all ingredients together until a smooth dough is formed; remove from the mixing bowl onto a floured surface.
5. Knead the dough for approximately 5 minutes until it takes on a more elastic, stretchy character.
6. Place in a floured bowl and cover with cling film, leave to prove in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, approximately 20 minutes.
7. As soon as the dough has doubled in size it is time to "knock it back", this is done by kneading the dough for another 5 minutes to remove all of the large air bubbles and evenly distribute the small air bubbles.
8. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle and then fold in the edges like an envelope to create a rectangle loaf. Then carefully bring in the edges of the dough and pinch together the seam on the bottom of the bread and transfer to a lined baking sheet making sure the seam is on the bottom of the loaf, the loaf should be a flat rectangle shape.
9. Gently press indents into the bread with your fingers creating a rippled effect, then sprinkle on the cubed feta cheese. Sliced black olives and chopped thyme evenly over the dough.
10. Cover the bread with cling film and leave to double in size in a warm place.
11. Bake at 200°c/400F for 15 minutes turning the bread halfway through, to check if the bread is cooked pick it up and tap the bottom of the loaf, if it makes a hollow sound its done, if the sound is more dense then the chances are its not fully cooked so return it to the oven for a few minutes to finish it off.
12. Once the bread is cooked remove from the oven and brush with olive oil again, sprinkle with sea salt to finish.
If you want a lower fat loaf use low fat feta cheese and don’t brush the loaf with extra olive oil
Use marinated artichokes instead of black olives for a tasty alternative