Focaccia


This was a spur of the moment bake, inspired by a friend mentioning it. Of course I added some Maltese flavouring; fennel seeds and olives and some baby plum tomatoes. I always say I should make it more often when I do! This version isn’t so greasy throughout but with a nice crust.

You can add what you want to the topping really; it’s nice with some simple rosemary sprigs, or roasted peppers, or tomatoes and anchovies. Just see what you have.

Ingredients:

500g strong white flour (plus a little extra)
1 x 7g packet of fast-action dried yeast
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon fine salt
300ml warm water
30ml good olive oil

For the topping;
Halved black olives
Halved baby tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Tablespoon sea salt flakes

I usually make this in my Kitchen Aid on the lowest setting using the dough hook. But you can mx it by hand (takes about 10 minutes kneeding to get the smooth, soft, elastic dough. Use a wooden spoon for mixing.

Put the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and fennel seeds into a big bowl. Give it a quick mix to distribute the fennel. Very slowly add the olive oil and then the water very slowly. The dough should form a rough ball.

Tip this onto a lightly floured surface (or continue in the mixer) and kneed for 5-10 minutes until you get a smooth dough. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place to double in size for about an hour.

Oil a baking tray (roughly 36x25cm) and pop the dough onto the baking tray. Gently with your knuckles, spread the dough out into a rectangle to fill the tray. Doesn’t have to be perfect shape but even depth is good.

Cover again with cling film and leave for another 30-45 minutes to prove. Preheat the oven to 250c / gas 8. It must be hot to start.

Before putting the dough in the oven, make little indents in the dough with your thumb/finger. Top with the halved olives, tomatoes and sea salt and drizzle with olive oil, being quite generous.

Put in the hot oven for 10 minutes at 250c then turn the one down to 150c for the last 10 minutes. It should be golden but not burnt!

Serve warm. Lovely toasted the next day! 🙂

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