The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Our Cooking Project #4: Olive and Rosemary Focaccia

We're not doing a bad job at keeping this cooking project alive, are we? Last weekend, Rob and I once again joined forces in the kitchen to make this Olive and Rosemary Focaccia at home. I had a look at a few focaccia recipes, but this time I decided to make things easier for me and just stick to one recipe rather than adapting my own one from several different recipes. The Olive & Rosemary Focaccia recipe on the website seemed relatively simple to follow, with a relatively short list of ingredients.

Since there were only two of us eating this, we halved the quantity to make a smaller focaccia, used bread flour instead of plain flour, and didn't bother with blooming the yeast because we used the instant type which was put directly in the dough. We also didn't have fresh rosemary leaves and used dried rosemary instead, which we mixed into the dough (rather than sprinkle on the top as suggested in the recipe), and then we sprinkled a mix of dried "Italian herbs" (sage, basil, oregano) on top of the dough prior to baking. In addition, we halved the amount of salt specified and didn't sprinkle salt on the dough. Other than these variations, we didn't change much from the recipe. Our focaccia turned out really well (was salty enough too), and it was so delicious that there was not a crumb of it left the next day. Certainly not for the carbophobic!

Olive and Rosemary Focaccia


310ml (1 1/4 cups) warm water
2 teaspoons (7g/1 sachet) dried yeast
2 teaspoons caster sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
450g (3 cups) plain flour
1 teaspoons sea salt flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary)
2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs (sage, basil, oregano)
20 pitted kalamata olives


1. Combine the water, yeast, sugar and 2 tablespoons of oil in a small bowl. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 5 minutes or until frothy.

2. Place flour, sea salt and rosemary in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in yeast mixture. Use a wooden spoon to stir until combined, then use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.

3. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Brush a bowl with oil to grease. Place dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

4. Preheat oven to 200°C. Brush a 20 x 30cm Swiss roll pan with 2 teaspoons of remaining oil. Punch down centre of the dough with your fist. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes or until dough is elastic and has returned to original size. Press into the prepared pan. Cover with a damp tea towel and set aside in a warm, draught-free place to prove for 20 minutes or until doubled in height. Use your finger to press dimples into the dough. Brush with remaining oil and sprinkle over dried herbs. Press the olives into the dough.

5. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden and focaccia sounds hollow when tapped on base. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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