Welcome to day 4 of the #7days7breads challenge. The gluten free bread was like biting into a cloud yesterday and you are sure in for a treat today. It’s a totally different technique today and I cannot wait to show you how to make focaccia. Remember, I will be there every day to guide you through the recipes, share my tips and hints and at the end you can share your results on social media using #7days7breads to win amazing prizes. I am also on Facebook every day live to show you how to master each recipe and technique at home with hardly any effort. All recipes are designed to be easy to follow and at the end you can enjoy a freshly baked loaf at home.
Focaccia is one of those Italian breads that sounds much more complicated than it is. I love making a nice focaccia for snacks or even for dinner. Sometimes I add some sun-dried tomatoes or cherry tomatoes or even some olives. It is almost like a fluffy pizza bread. Let’s make it together and you’ll see how easy it is.
What you will learn:
- How to work with a wet dough
- How to handle very sticky dough
- How to shape wet dough
Day 4: Focaccia
Making focaccia at home is so different to any other bread dough. Rather than being able to knead it nicely and forming a ball, you will have to handle a very wet and gluey mass that is everything but easy to handle. I must admit I quite like handling focaccia dough and think it is absolutely fantastic but there are a couple of things that are different about this Italian delicatessen.
Firstly, the dough that we are making this time is a lot wetter than the usual dough. Italian bread such as focaccia or cabbala or even breadsticks tends to be a lot softer and the reason for that is to create more air bubbles and a very soft texture which makes it the ideal dipping tool for olive oil or soup. Luckily we don’t have to knead it by hand although I would highly recommend it if you are ever in doubt of the powers of your Thermomix. Trust me, after that you will never want to knead a dough by hand again. It is such hard work and the last time I did it my arm was nearly swollen. Handling the dough is the other very different aspect of focaccia and basically it is best to use slightly oiled hands in order to handle and form the dough better. Remember here, the less you touch and shape the dough the better for the preservation of the air bubbles and lovely fluffy texture. During the second prove the focaccia can be toped with any toppings you like. You can treat it almost like a naked pizza with just toppings and no sauce only that you need to add a little less of the toppings than you would with pizza.
If you would like to attempt to make some awesome breadsticks you can actually use the same recipe and flatten your dough a little more with slightly oiled hands. Then you use a pizza roller to cut long strips that you can slightly separate on the baking tray. I love that as a little snack. These breadsticks work really well with some freshly grated parmesan cheese or some dried oregano.
Top Tips for better results
- Lightly oil your hands to work the wet dough much easier. Focaccia dough is super sticky and if you grease your hands you can work the dough much better.
- Use this recipe to make awesome breadsticks by simply flattening the dough and cutting into long strips instead. You can vary the recipe and make gorgeous breadsticks with the exact same dough. You could for example incorporate some cheese or fresh rosemary and have a beautiful snack.
- Experiment with any toppings but remember not to use ingredients that have too much moisture. The drier the ingredients the better it will be to achieve a lovely texture in your focaccia. Try frying red onions before using them as toppings or using small cherry tomatoes instead of large plum tomatoes for ultimate results.
An extra task
Apart from learning how to make yeasted bread, we will also start a fresh sourdough starter at home and learn all about sourdough bread baking in the last few days of the challenge. For now I will explain to you how to make your own starter and everyday at the same time we will feed it. In my Facebook live tutorial I will explain exactly what it is all about so that you get the most out of it.
Sourdough Starter Day 4:
By now there will be lots of activity in your starter. It should be very bubbly and smell like cider. Remove the lid from the jar and place it on top of the mixing bowl. Measure 50g light rye flour and 50g tap water. If your tap water is not suitable then use bottled water instead. Mix it with a spoon at this stage until the mixture resembles a creamy paste. Place the lid ajar and leave at room temperature for 24 hours. We will revisit this again tomorrow.
(This is what it should look like after you have mixed it)
- 350g water
- 20g olive oil + extra for greasing
- 1 Tbsp dry active yeast (or 30g fresh yeast)
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 2 tsp sea salt
- cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves
- sun-dried tomatoes and green olives
- black olives
- caramelised red onions
- fig and goat’s cheese
- rosemary and lemon
- thyme and artichokes
- To make the dough, place the water, olive oil and dry active yeast in the mixing bowl. Warm 2 Min. / 37°C / Speed 2.5.
- Add the flour and salt and knead 2 Min. / Kneading Function.
- Transfer the mixture into an oiled glass bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Place a piece of greaseproof paper that fits a deep baking tray on the worktop.
- Uncover the dough and tip onto the tray. Slightly oil your hands and drizzle some oil over the dough. Flatten with your hands to fit the tray and leave to rise for another hour. The surface should be covered lightly in oil. If not, cover the dough with a tea towel.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C / 200°C Fan / Gas Mark 8.
- Once proved, make finger indentations across the dough by pushing in your finger tips. Then decorate with any of the toppings you like.
- Bake the focaccia for 20-25 minutes until baked and fluffy. Leave to cool slightly before slicing.