Paul Hollywood’s Focaccia

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Now usually, I don’t have the time it takes to make bread. It can be a painstaking process whereby making the dough, leaving it to rise, knocking it back, leaving it to prove….ya da ya da ya da.

However, my aims for the month was to have a dinner party with a menu that involved making things I’d never done before…so guess what was for the starter! I decided to treat my lovely guests with a rosemary and sea salt focaccia and an olive oil/balsamic dip!

I must say, it was very nice, obviously not the healthiest thing but hey, you have to enjoy life! Give it a go, it was enjoyable to make and smells incredible. 

Ingredients

  • 500g/1lb 2oz strong white bread flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 sachets dried easy blend yeast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 400ml/14fl oz cold water (you may not need the full amount of water, I only used 350ml, it depends on the flour and the consistency, so you’ll have to decide!) 
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Fine sea salt – I used sea salt crystals 
  • 1 packet of fresh Rosemary, cut into 2cm sprigs

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Method

  1. Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and 300ml/10½fl oz of the water into a large bowl. Gently stir with your hand or a wooden spoon to form a dough then knead the dough in the bowl for five minutes, gradually adding the remaining water. It can be quite sticky but make sure you keep working it – I promise it’ll be worth it.
  2. Stretch the dough by hand in the bowl, tuck the sides into the centre, turn the bowl 80 degrees and repeat the process for about three – five minutes.
  3. Tip the dough onto an oiled work surface (by no means, don’t cover the work surface in oil, just put a little onto a tissue and wipe a plastic mat with it).
  4. Continue kneading for five more minutes.
  5. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size. Tip: to speed up the process, put the oven on for about 5 minutes before you need to leave the dough to rise; then place the bowl inside covered with a tea-towel. 
  6. Line two large baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Tip the dough out of the bowl and divide into two portions. Flatten each portion onto a baking sheet, pushing to the corners, then leave to prove for one hour. The best way to do this, is to place the dough on the baking sheet, and cover with greaseproof paper to push it to the edges. SIMPLICITY! 
  7. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Using your index finger dipped in flour, press the bread to form small holes – giving it the distinct focaccia appearance.
  8. Place a sprig of rosemary into each hole. Drizzle the loaves with oil, sprinkle with fine sea salt, then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. When cooked, drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve hot or warm.

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