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Focaccia the ultimate italian flatbread

Focaccia is probably the simplest Italian bread to make, but so good as an accompaniment to most Italian dishes. The best thing about making focaccia is the infinite combinations of toppings that can be used. Most recipes suggest adding the flavors to the toppings, whereas in some instances i prefer to actually combine flavor into the bread itself, especially if using garlic or anything else that may burn easily.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 260g strong flour
  • 150ml tepid water
  • 6g active dried yeast
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp sugar
  • semolina to dust

Method

  • Firstly place the yeast into half the water and give a quick stir, place the flour, salt and sugar in the food processor add the olive oil and the water/ yeast mixture. Mix in the food processor for 2 minutes or thoroughly combined.
  • Slowly add the remainder of the water until the dough is formed. If the mixture is too dry add more water, too wet add some more flour. The consistency achieved should be slightly sticky but still able to form a ball.
  • lightly grease a large mixing bowl and turn out the dough into it. Cover and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
  • Turn bowl upside down on to a lightly floured surface and allow dough to lift itself free from the bowl on to the work surface.
  • Next knead the dough by pushing down and folding, repeat this for 2-3 minutes.
  • With a rolling pin roll to about 1/3" thick, place on a lightly oiled tray, and with your finger press deep indentations into the dough all over.
  • Dust with semolina and leave to prove for a further 45 minutes, then bake in the oven at 190*c for 15-20 minutes or until the base sounds hollow when tapped.
  • Serve drizzled with Olive oil and sea salt.

Here are some variation's

  • Rosemary and garlic. Firstly add 1 clove of garlic to the first stage and whizz through the food processor before adding the yeast water. Finely chop 10g of fresh rosemary and place on the topping just before proving for the second time.
  • Sun blushed tomatoes and olive. Again add 25g sun blushed tomatoes at the first stage and follow the same principle as with the garlic, also add 25g pitted black olives and a tsp of basil to this stage. Just before processing add 1 tsp of grated Parmesan. Alternatively the olives can be cut into half and placed in the indentations before the second proving. This can be done with the tomato as well.
  • Chilli and red pepper. I find it best to slowly roast 1 deseaded quartered red pepper a 150*c for 15 minutes, cover in a bowl for 10 to make it easier to peel the skin off. Cut into thin strips. Sweat the chilli off and add to the first stage. Add the red pepper to the topping before proving.
  • Pancetta and mozzarella. Firstly add 2 tsp of basil and 1tsp Parmesan to the first stage. Bake for 10 minutes. Fry 50g pancetta for 4 minutes spread over the top of the part baked focaccia. Top with thin slices of buffalo mozzarella and bake for a further 10 minutes.

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