Italian style Focaccia bread with fresh rosemary and black olives
Focaccia bread is a great addition to any meal, especially pasta and salad, it’s lighter in texture than regular bread and it’s brushed with olive oil after baking which makes it stay soft and moist for longer.
Yield (makes): one loaf (12 people)
Prep time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 15 minutes
3 ¾ cups (360 g) Strong white bread flour
¾ cup (180 ml) warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon dried yeast
¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
One sprig fresh rosemary (chopped)
20 black olives
Freshly ground black pepper
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 and salt.
3. Add the yeast mixture and then the rest of the warm water and half of the olive oil to the flour and salt 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 flat rectangle about ½ inch (2 cm) thick, and transfer to a baking tray, evenly distribute the black olives on top of the dough and press in slightly, sprinkle over the chopped rosemary and a good grind of black pepper, brush with a little olive oil
9. Cover the bread with plastic wrap and leave to double in size once more in a warm place.
10. 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.
11. Once the bread is cooked remove from the oven and brush with the remaining olive oil , sprinkle with sea salt to finish.
For an attractive decoration sprinkle the bread with finely grated parmesan and chopped thyme before baking
Add a handful of chopped sun dried tomatoes at stage 2 for delicious sun dried tomato focaccia