Focaccia

Making bread is one of the most satisfying things ever – it makes me feel like a wizard. It’s time-consuming in that you do have to leave it to rise for quite a while, but the actual input required is pretty minimal. I made the dough, wrote a draft feature while it rose, then finished it off while making soup for dinner. This is a garlic and rosemary focaccia, but you can make a plain one, add sundried tomatoes and/or olives, cheese, other herbs…

200g strong white bread flour
1/4 warm water
2 tsp live yeast
Lots of olive oil
2 tsp rosemary
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Put about 4 dessert spoons of oil in a bowl and add 2 crushed cloves garlic and the rosemary. Stir well, then leave to infuse for a few mins.

Activate the yeast in 1/4 pint warm water and 1/2 tsp sugar. Put the flour, 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp salt in a big bowl.

Add the oil to the flour, scraping as much rosemary and garlic out as possible. Add the yeasty water and mix to form a smooth ball of dough. Flour a surface and knead for about 10mins until really soft and stretchy – you need to be able to pull a small piece of dough away from the rest and have it stretch without breaking. The kneading of the garlicky dough will make you the garlickiest creature in the world. Sorry. Once you have a soft, elastic ball of dough, place in an oiled bowl.

Yes, I know it looks like a potato…

Leave to rise in a warm place covered in a damp tea towel, for at least an hour and a half until at doubled in size. Knock back, then knead for another 5mins. At this stage, it will be really soft and pillowy, and very stretchy. Grease a tin (I used a regular 9″ sandwich cake tin) and press the dough roughly into the tin so it covers the whole base. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for another half hour. Then press your fingers repeatedly into the soft dough , pressing right down to the bottom of the tin.

Drizzle with three dessert spoons of the nicest olive oil you have, making sure it trickles into the holes. Bake at 200 degrees for about 20mins, until golden brown and crispy on top.

Serve in wedges, with soup.

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