Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Recipe - Sun-Dried Tomato Focaccia

sun dried tomato focaccia

There is no exaggeration or hyperbole when I say that this is the best bread I've ever eaten. I often serve this at dinners and parties and after 5 minutes the platters are empty. I've gotten marriage proposals from people I've served this to. (Seriously. I'm not even kidding.) It's soft, fluffy and rich in flavour. Want to know how I make it?

Bread dough:
420 g white bread flour
30 ml olive oil
5 ml salt
5 ml sugar
1 packet instant yeast
approx. 250 ml warm water

Mix all your ingredients in a large bowl. (If you don't have a scale, you're looking at approximately 3 cups of flour.) If dough is too sticky, add more flour; if it isn't coming together, add more water. You want a flexible, elastic dough. Now for the fun part - once your dough has come together, turn the ball out onto a floured surface and knead it for a few minutes. Really get your frustrations out on it. Again, add a touch more flour or water if it isn't getting nice and elastic. Once you are satisfied with your dough, place it in a large, greased bowl and cover with cling film. Put the bowl in a warm place and allow the dough to double in size (this should only take 5-10 minutes).

Roll the dough out on a greased baking tray until it is an even 1 cm thick layer. Cover the tray in cling film and set it aside to allow it to rise a little bit more. I either use this time to prepare my toppings, but I have also set aside the dough for an hour to two and then hauled it out to prepare the final stage once my guests have arrived.

75 ml olive oil
5 ml rosemary leaves
10 ml Maldon salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed
240 g sun-dried tomato quarters, in vinaigrette

Uncover it, and use your thumbs to press dimples all over the bread. Drizzle the olive oil over the bread, allowing it to pool in the dimples. Evenly scatter the rosemary leaves (fresh is best, but dried will do), garlic and Maldon salt (again, ordinary coarse salt will do but nothing beats Maldon salt). Cut up the sun-dried tomatoes (I like Ina Paarman's) into even pieces and place all over the bread. NB: Reserve the vinaigrette that the tomatoes were in!

Bake the focaccia for ~20 minutes in a 180 °C oven. (Your oven may vary in cooking time, so keep an eye on it the first time you bake this bread.)

When the focaccia comes out of the oven, drizzle the vinaigrette from the tomatoes over it. Cut and serve immediately. Gracefully accept all compliments.

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