Basic Focaccia

 

Focaccias are found in many different guises all over Italy, and can be thin & crisp, thick & soft, round or square. This basic one has been baked in a round pan, but it can be made in any shape you wish. You can leave out the rosemary, or use different toppings.

Sift the flour & fine sea salt into a large bowl & make a well in the centre. Crumble in the fresh/compressed yeast. For other yeasts, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Pour in 6 tablespoons of the olive oil, then rub in the yeast until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Pour in the water & mix with your hands until the dough comes together.

Spray the focaccias with water & bake for 20-25 minutes until risen & golden. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Eat on the same day or leave to cool, then wrap & freeze. To reheat, thaw, then wrap in aluminium foil & heat in a hot oven for 5 minutes. Almost like little muffins, these tiny treats hide a surprise when you bite into them – a tomato bathed in pesto & melting mozzarella. Make them in advance & reheat in a warm oven.

Almost like little muffins, these tiny treats hide a surprise when you bite into them – a tomato bathed in pesto & melting mozzarella. Make them in advance & reheat in a warm oven.

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Rustic focaccia with red pepper and onion

 

Light & simple, this flavoursome focaccia is great served to accompany soup & maked addition to any picnic basket.

Make the focaccia dough following the receipe on page 16, adding 1 teaspoon dried basil to the flour & leaving out the rosemary. Knead the dough & give it the first rising.

Uncover your mixing bowl & transfer the ball of dough to a well-floured surface. Knead well for a couple of minutes, then leave to rest for 5 minutes. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until big enough to fit your baking sheet. Transfer to the baking sheet & stretch it to fit snugly. Push your finger into the dough repeatedly to make dents about 2 cm/1 inch apart all over the surface.

For the topping, drizzle the oil evenly over the focaccia & scatter the pepper & onion over the top. Cover & leave to rest for another 40 minutes. It will increase in size again.

Preheat the oven to 2000C (4000F) Gas 6.

Uncover the focaccia & bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes – it should be pale gold. Remove from the oven & leave to cool. Store in an airtight container or bread bag for up to 2 days.

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Little stuffed focaccia muffins

 

Uncover the dough, punch out the air & divide the dough into 4. Roll or pull each piece as thinly as you can on a well-floured work surface. Using an upturned glass or a biscuit cutter, stamp out 6 little circles. Place a scant teaspoon of pesto in the middle of each circle, add a little mozzarella, then top with a cherry tomato. Bring the sides up & over the tomato & pinch to seal.

Put the muffins, sealed-side down, in the prepared mini-muffin pans. Brush the tops with olive oil, push in a herb sprig & sprinkle with rock salt. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until risen & cooked through. Tip out of the pans & eat warm, as a snack, with drinks.

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