Given the lack of any bread flour or plain flour at the supermarket on the weekend (March 27), I know you flour hoarders are trying to ease your guilt and trying your best to use that 2kg bag of flour sitting in your pantry.
This brings me to the best quote I have seen on social media. “Everyone on my street has either turned into a marathon runner or a sourdough aficionado”. This quarantine kitchen has definitely not seen a shortage of activity. I am not giving you a recipe for sourdough. Mostly because the 20 loaves of sourdough I have baked over the last 2 years are not still up to my standards and the occasional dense and flat loaf I get is enough reason not to post a recipe lest you hurl your equally dense and flat loaf out the kitchen window. There will be a post one day. With plenty of whinging about sourdough making instructions on the net but for now, make some Focaccia. It hardly needs kneading, there’s not a stretch-and-fold to be done. And it fairly fool proof. The only thing it needs is time. Time to rest. And time to rise.
- 500g bread flour (yes, you may use normal plain flour for a softer bread but it may have lesser big holes)
- 400ml warm water
- 1 1/4 tsp granulated/ instant yeast (add extra 1/4 tsp if you want dough to rise faster)
- 1tsp sugar
- 12g salt
- 7tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic grated or other herbs for flavouring (thyme, rosemary, parsley etc).
- 12 inch round baking tin/ dutch oven (I use a oven safe fry pan)
- 10 inch square tin or any oven safe baking vessel that is at least 1.5 inch high and gives you an area of 100-110 in² (for example a 12 x 9 inch tray works too)
- Mix yeast, sugar and 50ml of warm water in a bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar and yeast. Leave for 10-15min until yeast gets very foamy¹.
- Mix flour, salt, remaining water, and yeast mixture in a large bowl and mix until flour is well incorporated into dough.
- Move the dough aside in the bowl and rub 1 tbsp of olive oil around the sides and base of the bowl, while moving the dough around.
- Leave dough in bowl and cover with glad wrap or a moist towel and leave to proof/ rise for 3-6 hours until at least doubled².
- When dough is ready, rub 3 tbsp of olive oil onto baking tin/ tray³.
- Remove dough from proofing bowl with the aid of a dough scraper/ spatula and pour into baking vessel.
- Coat fingers in oil and pour remaining oil over the top of dough and spread the dough out, stretching and pushing it into the corners of the baking vessel. Ensure the top of dough is evenly coated in olive oil and if using garlic, gently rub it over the top of dough.
- Dimple the dough with your fingers ensuring your fingers touch the base of the pan/ tray.
- Cover the tray/ pan and leave to rise for another 1-4ish hrs (or cover it well and place in fridge for 12-16 hrs) until dough has doubled and is at least 1¼ inch (3.2cm) deep.
- When dough is ready, pre heat oven to 220C/ 430F.
- Sprinkle some salt flakes and herbs over the focaccia and then bake for 20min until focaccia is nice and brown.
- Remove from pan and cool on baking rack for 30mins before cutting.
- Dip in balsamic and olive oil and inhale.
- ¹ If yeast does not get foamy, check if your yeast is out of date. Redo a batch (if yeast is flat) with slightly warmer water, sugar and increase yeast to 1.5tsp and see if it foams up. If it doesnt, you need to buy a new batch of yeast.
- ² Rising time is determined by ambient temperature and amount of yeast used. It’s about 20C/ 68F in my home and the dough takes abt 3-4hr to double. Less if I turn on the house heater. I have also left it overnight for 12hrs on the kitchen table. It may be helpful to use a bowl or container that has volume markings.
- ³ Baking tray/ tin needs to be well lubricated else you will have issues removing the focaccia. Usually olive oil is good enough to prevent sticking but if you want to be extra safe, line bottom of baking tin with baking paper.