Last week I made a really delicious Tomato and Garlic Focaccia and posted images of it on Facebook – I was asked if I could write a tutorial and share the recipe, so here goes – it’s super easy and you end up with something really really tasty!
What you will need:
– 300ml of warm water
– 7g packet of dried yeast
– 4 cloves of garlic
– 100ml of olive oil
– 500g strong bread flour
– 1 tsp of salt
– a few tomatoes (I used on the vine ones as the flavour is better than the usual supermarket fodder)
– dried thyme
This is a recipe I adapted from a Paul Hollywood one – in my opinion he uses FAR TOO MUCH salt in his recipes and also a bit too much oil in this one – I had loads left over the first time I made this so I’ve reduced the amount over subsequent goes and now I’m happy with 100ml.
I forgot to photograph this step, so apologies, but basically you start the night before and you crush your four cloves of garlic into your olive oil and leave to infuse over night – warning – your house WILL smell of garlic!
Since I damaged my arm a few years ago I’ve used my trusty Mr Kenwood (other makes of mixer are available) to do all my mixing, as even though my arm is much much better now, I just don’t have the strength in it any more and can’t do prolonged activities like kneading bread. Feel free to use a mixer, or knead your dough by hand. Regardless of all that, use a mixing bowl to start off with and measure out the warm water and add the yeast to it. Give it a bit of a mix and leave to bubble while you get the other ingredients sorted. When I say warm, it’s hard to give an actual temperature as I don’t measure it, I just wait until the water coming out of the tap turns from cold to warm and collect 300ml – you don’t want it too hot as that will kill off the yeast.
Next measure out your bread flour and add this to the water, completely covering it (Only just noticed my reflection in the bowl – note I’m still wearing my pyjamas!). Then make a well in the center of the flour like in the image below.
Poor in just over half of the infused oil, making sure you put the majority of the garlic in with it too.
Next measure out 1 tsp of salt and add this to the oil. It’s very important to add the salt last and keep it away from the yeast for as long as possible as salt, like hot water, also kills yeast and if you added this at the water stage, your bread wouldn’t rise at all.
Introduce your ingredients to your mixer of choice and set on a low speed to get the ingredients combined. Oooh there are my feet again…
Once combined, increase the speed a little and leave to do it’s work. From experience, with my mixer, this take about 10 minutes, but I stop it every few minutes and check to avoid over kneading. You’re looking for a soft elastic dough that stretches easily and doesn’t break into bits when you pull it. If you’re kneading by hand, it’s impossible to over knead as you’ve got your hands on the dough all the time and feel it’s consistency change.
The dough gets smoother and stretchier…
This is my dough after about 10 minutes…
I can pull it and it stretches and doesn’t break into bits.
Next form the dough into a ball and place it back in the bowl and cover it with clingfilm. Leave to rise until it’s doubled in size – in my house (cold place) this takes about 2 hours.
This image below shows my dough after 2 hours – a lot bigger.
I use a scraper to get my dough out of the bowl…
Plonk it on a floured surface…
And flatten it out a bit…
Next use a rolling pin and roll it out to the approximate size of your tin. You can just use a baking tray and have a freeform loaf shape, but me being the control freak, I like to have a rectangular shaped loaf so that I can cut it and store it in the zip lock bags I have easily and bung it in the freezer. Size doesn’t matter here really, I’ve tried it in a big long tin as well as a shorter tin, just make sure you don’t roll the dough out too thin.
Oil your tray with olive oil generously…
Then transfer your dough to the tray with one big sweeping action – plonk!
Then pull it about a bit and neaten it up so that it’s all in the tin and press your fingers all over it to create little pockets.
Use the remaining garlic infused oil and cover the dough with this, either with your fingers or with a pastry brush.
Slice your tomatoes and place them all over the bread – again I’ve been a little bit anal here with my arrangement – feel free to be a bit more haphazard if you desire. Sprinkle with dried thyme and a little crushed sea salt and leave to rise again – I left mine for about an hour and a half. The image below is the bread before I put it in the oven.
Bake in a preheated oven (220°C) for approx 20 minutes. I turn mine round half way through baking as my oven tends not to distribute it’s heat evenly as it should.
Once you’ve taken it out of the oven – let it sit for a few minutes and then chop into it and eat it warm with cheese or topping of choice – it truly is yummy!
I leave mine to cool and often cut it into 4 and store in zip lock bags, or put these into the freezer.