For a recent dinner party, I was set to make bruschetta for an appetizer/antipasto. After all, I had just posted about it so it was on my mind. That… and the fact that shops and markets are practically overflowing with fresh, local produce. What a great time of year for eating!! Seasonal products, fresh and at their peak… never need more than a little attention to bring out their best flavours.
When I decided to serve white wine steamed mussels – it was a given that some bread was needed. The wine and herb mussel liquor begs for it… so I opted for a focaccia. I had a picture in my mind of one that I’d seen; gloriously topped with tomatoes and black olives. That’s it, I thought… perfect!
With very little extra effort from the usual rosemary and olive oil topped focaccia, the result was delicious and a big hit!
Tomato, Black Olive & Rosemary Focaccia
Makes one 10 x 15 inch ‘loaf’… You could always make it thicker if you like, but adjust the baking time. This is very forgiving dough, perfect for any novice baker. You could also vary the toppings and even the pan you bake it in – especially if you enjoy a very thick focaccia. However you decide to finish it, for the best taste, be sure to let the bread rise twice before baking.
For the Dough:
1/4 cup warm water (approx. body temperature)
pinch white sugar
1/2 tsp yeast
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup approx. additional warm water
For the topping:
approx 1 cup small grape or cherry tomatoes
approx 1/2 cup black olives, pitted
approx 2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped finely
additional olive oil, for drizzling
kosher or other coarse salt, for sprinkling
Combine the warm water and sugar, then sprinkle the yeast over; leave for approx. 10 minutes to activate/proof.
Add the flour and salt in a medium to large bowl – make a well in the center and add the proofed yeast, olive oil and additional water.
To start kneading, pull the bread over itself towards you…
Then push it away with the heel of your palm…
Turn the bread a quarter turn, after each pull/push action…
What you’re doing is developing the gluten and giving the bread it’s structure…
You’ll feel the dough coming to life in your hands…. sprinkle on more flour as needed.
Keep going… this is where the music helps!!
Once it’s smooth and springy, turn it over to shape it: you want a really smooth surface to capture the gases from the yeast and get a good rise.
In the same bowl (that’s why you got all the bits of dough out…) put a teaspoon of olive oil, coat the bread in it and turn it over. Cover and leave to rise, approx 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.
Once the dough has risen…. punch it down/knock the air out….
Using your fingers, start spreading it out on your olive oil coated pan…
If it keeps springing back… let it rest a few minutes and spread it some more.
Cover and leave for the second rise… for about 30 minutes.
Well worth the effort but eat it up fast – it will only stay fresh for a day~