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Focaccia , easy bread great for picnics and snacks

Tania Cusack
A quick and easy home baked bread recipe that is both easy and great for snack
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
1 hr 30 mins
Course Bread, Snacks
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 serves

Ingredients
  

  • 500 gm flour, plain or bread 3 1/2 cups | 17.6 oz
  • 350 ml water, warm 1 1/2 cups minus 1 tablespoon |11.80fl oz
  • 9 gm yeast, dried 3 teaspoons
  • 5 gm salt 1 teaspoon
  • 10 gm sugar 1 Tablespoon

Topping

  • 60 ml olive oil 3 Tablespoons
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 whole cherry tomatoes or olives
  • 5 gm salt
  • 2 cloves garlic

Instructions
 

  • Set the oven to 18O C or 350 F. You will need a tray  30cm x 23cm / 9x 12in. Fopr a thicker focaccia. Or a larger thiner style tray size 35x25cm / 13 x 10 in.
    This dough can very easily be made by hand, but if you have a stand mixer attach the dough hook and incorporate all the ingredients as below.
  • Mix the yeast, sugar and warm water together and set this aside. The mixture should start to froth a little or at least start to dissolve
  • Mix the flour and salt together
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour all of the water in at once.  Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients with the yeast water stirring with your hand until you have a wet shaggy dough. 
  • Turn the dough onto the bench and knead until you have a soft elastic dough. This will take up to 10 minutes of kneading. (If you have it in a machine knead till soft and smooth). Don't add lots of extra flour when kneading. If the dough is sticky add flour to your hands and rub them together to get rid of the sticky bits on your hands. Rub over the sticky dough on the bench and this will add a bit of flour and get all the sticky bits off your hands Use a bench scraper to move the dough from the bench if you have one. If not use a palette knife or fish slice. Adding lots of extra flour makes the bread dry
  • Now the dough is ready to go into a greased bowl and cover with greased cling wrap. Set aside for up to an hour to double in size. I like to use spray and cook, and never add extra oil when proving. It makes the dough slippery and hard to handle when putting into the tin.
  • Put the covered dough into a warm place. The dough will take about 30 minutes to an hour to double in size depending on the warmth of the environment or the freshness of the yeast. Once the dough has doubled in size put it onto the tray and push it out to the corners. You could also put it onto the bench and roll out with a rolling pin. Once it is even and flat put finger indents all over it. Cover the tray in greased cling film and set aside somewhere warm
  • The dough will take around 30 minutes or so to prove. It should look puffy and risen up the sides of the tray. It is important to not leave the dough for too long to prove. Risen but not too puffy (see below)
  • Mix the olive oil and the salt together and garlic slices if you want to use those. Smooth the dough gently with the oil mix to coat. Its ok if the indents get little pools of oil. Stud with halved cherry tomatoes and sprigs of rosemary or olives
  • Put the bread into the oven and bake until golden. This will take around 15- 20 minutes. Check under neath to make sure the bread is cooked and coloured nicely.
  • Once the bread is out of the oven slide it onto a rack to cool a bit.

Notes

When using water for bread making make sure that it is just lukewarm or blood temperature. This is no more than 37 C
What is "proving" the dough. Whenever a "yeasted" dough is made it needs to be proved. The ideal environmental temperature for proving is a warm area at around 24 C.
Once the yeast is added to other ingredients it becomes active. As the yeast becomes active it  releases carbon dioxide, and this creates air pockets that stretch the dough activating the gluten helping to puff up the dough
The process of proving and forming carbon dioxide is called fermentation. The first step is blooming the yeast to start this process off. Once the dough is made the first prove is generally called bulk fermentation.
The dough is then shaped (some people call this knocking back but it is best to not be overly rough with proved dough- You want to retain some of the air). Once shaped bread is left to ferment again. Then it is baked
You can over and under prove bread. Underproving creates bread that is flat and not very fluffy
Over proving can create bread that is lumpy and bumpy with an uneven crumb. This happens because the yeast starts to overgrow and the air escapes and causes collapsed bubbles. When baked the bread doesn't rise properly as there are no air bubbles left inside
Yeast and salt do not like each other. You must always add the salt to the flour so it is dispersed through the flour.
Why add salt to bread then? Yes if salt kills yeast why add so much? Bread without salt is like cake without sugar, quite tasteless. The thing is though, it not only seasons the dough but it also controls the yeast. Without that bit of salt the yeast would grow too fast and get too puffy and collapse onto it self in an overworked heap.
Yeast is most often left to bloom with water and sugar. Sugar helps the yeast to grow and ferment where direct contact with salt kills yeast. 
Why cover proving bread with cling wrap?
The cling wrap keeps the warmth in the proving dough. Always use a cooking spray when you grease the bowl and the cling wrap to cover your proving bread.  Using a greased cling wrap will stop the bread from sticking to the plastic when rising.
I don't like to use a lot of oil when proving as it makes the dough slippery and sticky. Just a quick shot of oil spray will do the trick
Keyword baking, bread, snacks