There's nothing nicer than fresh bread, especially with a bowl of soup on a chilly day. We find that the best place to prove a loaf is by the side of our woodburning stove, so I tend to bake more in the autumn and winter.
Traditional methods tend to flavour focaccia by sprinkling herbs on to the surface just before baking, but I find you get a better result (and avoid everything falling off!) by spreading the seasoning through the dough. I make several variants of this recipe, including the more traditional garlic & rosemary (just use a few large cloves of garlic in place of the onion), but also substituting other herbs from time to time. Anything that can be chopped finely could be kneaded into the dough; I love olive bread and I'm sure olives would work well, but my husband isn't a fan so I haven't tried it.
This seems to be about the right quantity for two of us, with a bowl of soup, as a light meal. For a starter it might stretch to four, but honestly, it's so moreish that I just increase the quantities instead. Although it keeps okay for a day or so, you'll want to eat it fresh from the oven if you can.
Rosemary & Onion Focaccia
1tsp dried yeast
6 fl.oz warm water
340g (12oz) strong white bread flour
¼ tsp table salt
2tbsp olive oil
2-3 sprigs rosemary
½ a small onion
2tsp coarse sea salt
Extra olive oil for drizzling
- Dissolve the yeast and sugar in about 1tbsp of the warm water, and set aside.
- Stir the table salt in to the flour, and make a well in the middle for the liquids.
- Once the yeast is frothy, add the yeast mixture, olive oil, and about half the water to the flour, and bring together with your (clean!) hands.
- Add more water, a little at a time, until a soft dough is formed.
- Knead for a few minutes (you can turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, or do as I do, and keep your kitchen tidier by making sure you have a large mixing bowl and kneading in the bowl).
- Cover the bowl and place somewhere warm for 30-40 minutes, until doubled in size. About 25-30°C is ideal.
- While the dough is rising, finely dice the onion, and chop the rosemary.
- Add the onion, rosemary, and half of the sea salt to the bowl. Knead for a couple of minutes to knock out the air bubbles and mix in the flavourings.
- Shape on a lightly greased baking tray, and set aside to rise for a further 30 minutes (back in the same warm spot is ideal).
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Just before baking, dimple the surface of the bread with your fingers. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on the remaining sea salt.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
- Cool on a wire rack for at least a couple of minutes, before serving with another final drizzle of oil.