I like bread a lot. In fact, I'd go so far as saying I was all about it.
I think I've only made bread once before, but this was different.
Making bread is much easier that I imagine it to be. Even though it's all kneading and rising, bread isn't hard. Probably because it's all kneading and rising. I'd love to make bread all the time, but I don't have the time to wait around for it to rise. How did they do it in the old days, when they had fresh bread in the morning? You'd have to get up three hours before you wanted breakfast. Three Hours! I couldn't do that. I like to have tea and toast as soon as I'm dressed. It's just how I roll.
This bread was a lazy weekend activity. I made the bread in the morning and we ate it for lunch, stuffed with grilled haloumi and fresh salad. In that respect, it kind of requires planning, because the bread has to rise for 3 hours in total. But this does mean that you can do whatever you want while you're waiting, because the bread doesn't need babysitting. You could visit your parents, go for a run, make a dress, clean your house, play with your cat. The possibilities are endless!
The toppings for this focaccia are also endless. This one had roasted garlic, fresh rosemary, pink sea salt, and olive oil. I think the garlic was unnecessary, and if I made this again, I wouldn't use it. Garlic olive oil might be better. I think chopped olives or chilli might be nice. I also think that the focaccia should be baked thinner than I made it. You don't even really need a square tin to bake the bread in, you could just spread the dough out onto a flat metal tray and make a really thin, rustic bread. Drizzled with oil and sprinkled with sea salt, this would be the perfect accompaniment to summer salad and enjoyed with friends at a barbecue.
Sea salt & rosemary focaccia:
Adapted slightly from Food On Paper
If you want to use roasted garlic as well, simply wrap three unpeeled garlic cloves in al-foil, and bake at 200C for 30 minutes. Chop and sprinkle onto the dough before baking.
Use the best sea salt flakes you can. I used Murray River pink salt flakes.
¼ teaspoon caster sugar
1 sachet of instant dry yeast (7g)
400ml warm water
500g plain flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Olive oil, Fresh or dried rosemary & Sea salt flakes to top.
In a small bowl, mix the sugar, yeast and 60ml of warm water. Cover and leave in a warm spot for 5 minutes for the yeast to activate (it should become foamy and almost rise up. If it doesn't, start again).
In a large bowl, add the flour, salt, yeast mix, and half the warm water. Stir with a spoon to combine.
Add more water as necessary, until a solid dough starts to form. You may not need all the water, so add a bit at a time.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead the dough for 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
Place the dough into an oiled bowl (a glass or plastic bowl is good because you can see it rising). Cover with cling wrap and a damp tea towel. Leave in a warm, draught free place for 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, take off the cling wrap and the towel and punch the dough down with your fist to remove any air bubbles.
Line a baking tray with baking paper (the smaller the tray, the higher the bread after its baked) and put the dough into the tray. Spread the dough out with your fingers, reaching to the corners of the tray.
Cover the tray again with cling wrap and the tea towel and leave in a warm place for another 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 220C.
Take the wrappings off the dough and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt flakes and rosemary.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden and crisp to the touch.
Drizzle with a little more olive oil before serving.