Its all down to that old “Making bread is too difficult” thing!
Over my years as an FE Catering & Hospitality lecturer, I’ve found that that’s been the common theme amongst thousands of my students. Folk generally run scared of making bread dough, rather than giving it a go! I have to admit that, although I taught catering for many years, it has only been more recently, since I retired and got my first Thermomix TM31 and more recently my TM5, that I have really got into BAKING. That is the word to use folks. You don’t cook bread or scones, buns or biscuits etc ………. you BAKE them!
You will see, if you scan through the recipes on my BLOG, that they are mainly bakes and I hope that you enjoy trying them out for yourself.
Focaccia is one of the most popular types of bread in Italy, with a long history that reaches distant times of early Ancient Greek culture and Etruscans who lived in North Central Italy before the formation of Roman Empire. This flat bread topped with spices, olive oil and other products was in use for thousands of years, before it was gradually morphed into one of the most famous Italian meals – pizza!
Focaccia was one of the first bakes that I tried when I got my Thermomix and its one that we cook – sorry BAKE – a lot during the hotter summer months here on the Isle of Wight. We have a lovely South facing garden which gets the sun until it disappears around 8 o’clock in the evening. So, we are often to be found sat on the deck supping one of my darling wife’s famous G&Ts, made with fresh lime and elderflower cordial, a Strawberry Daiquiri or a nice glass of chilled rosé from Provence. Sticks of focaccia and dipping oils or guacamole are usually a pre-requisite and sometimes, just occasionally, there’s even some left when our son gets back in from his office. So, now I’ve set the scene, lets get BAKING!
- 350 g tepid water
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 1 x 7 g sachet instant yeast
- 30 g olive oil – plus extra for drizzling
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 tsp Maldon Salt
- 2 tbsp fresh rosemary and thyme leaves – coursely chopped
- Place the water, sugar, yeast, oil, strong flour and salt (in that order) into your TM mixing bowl and mix for 20 secs/speed 6. Knead of dough setting for 2 mins.
- The dough is quite wet and sticky. Remove the TM mixing bowl from your TM and turn upside down onto your work surface, lightly dusted with flour. Undo the base of your TM and allow the blade to drop inside with the dough. Scrape the blade with a pastry scraper and set aside your mixing bowl and blade ready to wash.
- Work the dough for a few seconds, until you have a nice round ball of dough. Place into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film or a plastic bag and prove until doubled in size – this should only take an hour, but may be longer.
- Using a silicone spatula, scrape the focaccia dough out of the TM mixing bowl, into a lightly oiled stainless bowl. Cover with cling film or a plastic bag and allow to prove for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Using the rounded end of a pastry scraper, turn the dough out into a well (olive) oiled rectangular baking tray, 23 x 33cm (9″x13″). Drizzle some more olive oil over the dough and using your fingers, ease the dough towards the edges of the baking tray. Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t fully cover the base at this time. Cover with a tea towel, cling film or a plastic bag and leave to rest for around 30-45 minutes.
- Pre-heat your oven to 250oC.
- Using your fingertips, make indentations in the surface of the risen dough and allow to rest again for around 45-60 minutes.
- Sprinkle the surface of the dough with a little extra olive oil and sprinkle with Maldon Salt and the fresh herb mix and immediately place your baking tray into your pre-heated oven. Turn down the heat to 220oC and bake for 25-30 minutes until the surface is a light golden brown.
- Remove from your oven and turn out onto a cooling wire and brush with a little more olive oil while your focaccia is still hot.
- To check that your facaccia is cooked, remove from the oven, give it a tap and if it sounds hollow then it’s cooked.
- While it’s still warm or cooled, using a serrated bread knife, cut into chunks and get stuck in.
- This is great with summer salads or the ubiquitous BBQ!