Recipe courtesy of Lorraine Pascale.
This delicious bread is great for sharing, and tastes even better when you use really fine extra virgin olive oil. I hide my good bottle of extra virgin on the top shelf of a cupboard, away from prying hands - it's far too nice to be used for unworthy cooking tasks like frying eggs. But for making Foccacia, it's well worth using, and the imperial bottle of oil makes a rare appearance.
Makes one large flat loaf.
500g organic strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp salt
1 x 7 g sachet of fast action dried yeast
80 ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
150-250 ml warm water
Vegetable oil or oil spray, for oiling
1 bunch of fresh rosemary
Large pinch of sea salt
- Dust a large flat baking tray with flour.
- Put the flour in a large bowl, add the salt and yeast, then add the olive oil plus enough warm water to make a dough that is soft but not sticky. The more water that can be added (the full 250 ml is great) then the lighter the bread will be. But it can take some perseverance. Even if the dough feels sloppy at first, resist the temptation to add more flour as it will make the dough too heavy.
- Knead the dough for about 10 minutes by hand on a lightly floured work surface or for 5 minutes if using an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. The dough should feel stretchy when pulled. To test if it is ready, make a ball with the dough then, using a well-floured finger, prod a shallow indent in the side. If the dough springs back and the indent disappears, it is ready to shape.
- Shape the dough into an oval and place it on the prepared baking tray. Flatten it out to about 30 cm long and 20 cm wide. Cover the dough with oiled clingfilm, making sure it is airtight.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, Gas Mark 6.
- Leave the dough in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until it has almost doubled in size. With a floured index finger press holes in the dough at regular intervals, about 4 cm apart in rows across the dough, pressing right down to the bottom. Take 3 cm long sprigs of the rosemary and push them into the holes.
- Sprinkle some sea salt over the dough and place it in the top third of the oven. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the bread is well risen, light golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped underneath.
- Remove from the oven, drizzle with the remaining olive oil and leave to cool on the baking tray.
This is perfect served warm as a starter or indeed as a meal in itself with fresh tomatoes, artichokes and cold meats, or with a steaming bowl of hot soup.
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