THE FORGIVING FOCACCIA- a Baking Beginner’s Delight
The first bread I ever baked! And it remains my favourite to date 😀
‘Mom, it smells like an Italian kitchen in here!!’, yelled my 13 year old in abandoned joy.
And I felt like joining him because I was baking my first bread-ever!!
The first prove and the second prove were periods of anxiety.Have I the right yeast! Am I doing it the right way!
(If those sound like alien terms, don’t you worry- they were strangers to me till a month back!)
Eventually, when we bit into it, it was the best focaccia we’d ever had,soft inside, a hint of crunch on the outside.And I was a happy Mamma (Mia)!!
I call it ‘The Forgiving Focaccia’ as it is almost impossible to go wrong with it! A perfect start for your baking journey as it was for mine 🙂
Here is the super-simple recipe. The recipe is inspired and simplified from my friend Priyanka Chakraborty’s recipe here
For the focaccia dough
2 cups – All purpose flour (Maida)
1 ¼ tsp dry yeast or ½ teaspoon Instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk/chhas/taak (at room temperature)
¼ cup just-warm water
2 Tbsp olive oil
For the topping
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp mixed herbs – oregano,basil,rosemary and garlic powder
¼ tsp salt
4-5 cherry tomatoes halved or a large tomato, sliced
A few leaves of fresh basil
Prove the yeast – (Now what does that mean? Here you go) Add the sugar to ¼ cup of warm water. Mix well. The water has to be just the right temperature- not too hot because that will kill the yeast not too cool because the yeast won’t prove. Drop some on the back of your wrist and it should feel warm there. Add the yeast and rest covered for 10-15 minutes. The yeast should froth like soapy bubbles. If it doesn’t, throw the mix and start afresh. Proper proving of the yeast is vital to good bread!
In a big bowl, take the flour and salt. Mix well.
Once the yeast has bloomed, add it to the flour and knead the dough with the buttermilk. It will be sticky and it is meant to be like that.
Add the Olive oil and knead for another 10-12 minutes. You will have a soft and manageable dough now.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with cling film, or a kitchen towel and rest for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The dough should double up. The time actually depends on the weather conditions-if very hot, it doubles sooner than the 1 ½ hours. This is the first prove.
Remove from the bowl once the dough is doubled and gently knock out the air.
Roll it out into a large recrtange,square or circle as desired and place on to a greased baking dish.
Cover with cling film or a kitchen towel taking care that they do not touch the top of the bread. Leave to rise again for about 30 minutes. This is the second prove.
When there are 20 minutes to go, pre-heat the oven at 200C.
Make dimples on the surface of the bread, gently with your fingertip, so that you don’t deflate it. Drizzle olive oil generously, filling up the dimples made over the surface of the focaccia.
Sprinkle some dry herb mixture and garlic powder (or a tsp of garlic crushed fine) Brush with oil all over the surface with gentle hands.Stick the cherry tomatoes into the bread.
Bake for 20 minutes at 180 C, till the top changes colour slighty. If doing in an oven with two elements, please keep both on.
Remove from over, sprinkle some shredded basil leaves and bake for another 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven, cool on a wire rack for 8-10 minutes, slice and serve fresh out of the oven.
- This dough keeps well in the refrigerator too. I cling filmed it tight and put it in last night. This morning, removed, got it back to room temperature and baked. Works well 🙂
- Baked bread can be sliced , wrapped in paper towels and frozen in ziplock bags. Before using, thaw and put into a hot oven for 10 odd minutes and it is as good as fresh 🙂
A look at the lovely crumb. The crust is nice and crunchy and the insides, very soft!
More madness to follow!
Cheers and Happy Baking! 😀