Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia completes a lazy Sunday brunch

On a Sunday I like nothing better than tucking into a traditional roast beef lunch but we've had a few really busy weekends lately and this Sunday I was ready for a chill-out day - maybe a nice walk (depending on the weather) and the opportunity to catch up on a few episodes of my favourite TV programmes. I had therefore decided that lunch would be more of a casual affair with as little fuss as possible and had an idea to do a leisurely 'help yourself' type of meal that required no cooking - my own twist on Greek mezze or Italian antipasti. 

I went in search of some suitable ingredients on Saturday and found some lovely cheeses and cold meats, some olives, roasted peppers and artichoke hearts in a jar and a nice ham, chicken and stuffing pie from a local farm shop. All delicious and ready to serve - perfect! 

It was only on Sunday morning that I realised I had forgotten to buy bread, which for me is one of the must-haves on a meal like this!  I could have easily popped down the road to the supermarket to pick up a french stick or a bloomer but this was supposed to be a nice relaxing day and I really couldn't face the supermarket.

So I searched the internet for a nice bread recipe and I found one on the BBC Good Food site for Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia that sounded good and didn't seem like too much work - especially as I could make the dough in my bread machine. I had some sprigs of Rosemary in the bottom of the fridge that had seen better days but decided they'd be fine to add to bread.

Out came my trusty bread machine and I popped the dough ingredients in and put it on the 'Dough' setting - 1hr 30mins came up on the display. Fantastic - we had enough time for a walk!

So out we went and had a lovely walk along the banks of the Tyne in Hexham. It was a bit wild and woolly in Northumberland on Sunday and we got a tad wet but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Tyne Green, Hexham

The banks of the Tyne

A short walk through the trees
When we got home the dough was just about ready. How good was that? I'd been out enjoying some fresh air while my bread machine had been doing all the hard work for me! I just needed to shape it, let it have one final rise, top it with oil, rosemary and salt and then bake it in the oven.

15 minutes later and it was ready - all puffed up and golden and the results were excellent - the bread was really moreish and was the perfect accompaniment to our lazy Sunday brunch!

Sea salt, Rosemary and lots of Olive Oil make this bread tasty and moist
After 15 minutes baking the bread was well risen and golden
A lovely spongy centre
The recipe for Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia is shown below. If you haven't got a bread machine the dough can of course be made by hand. I've put both methods in for good measure.

Notes: Thyme would be a good substitute for the rosemary and sea salt isn't essential - a good sprinkling of normal table salt would work just as well.

For the dough:
For the topping:

To make the dough by hand:
1. Put the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Mix the olive oil with the warm water and pour it on to the flour mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon and then bring the mixture together with your hands to form a rough ball.

2. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes to make a smooth, pliable and fairly soft dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave to rise for about an hour in a warm place until it has doubled in size.

3. Lightly oil a large baking tray measuring about 36cm x 25cm/14in x 10in.

4. Carry on from point 5 below.

To make the dough by machine:
1. Put the warm water, olive oil, salt and sugar into the pan of the bread machine. Add the flour and yeast on top without stirring.

2. Set the machine to the dough setting and start the machine. 

3. Lightly oil a large baking tray measuring about 36cm x 25cm/14in x 10in.

4. Once the cycle has completed, carry on from point 5 below. 

For both methods:
5. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knock it back with your knuckles. Press the dough into a rough rectangle, about the size of the baking tray, then carefully place it on the baking tray and ease it out towards the edges. Don’t worry too much about how it looks – it’s meant to be rustic.
Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for a further 30 minutes to prove.

6. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

7. After 30 minutes, the focaccia should look puffed up and spongy. Use your index finger to poke dimples all over the dough right through to the bottom of the tray.

8. To make the topping, drizzle the focaccia with the three tablespoons of olive oil, allowing it to seep into the dimply holes. Sprinkle with the sea salt, black pepper and chopped rosemary. Finish by poking the twiggy sprigs of rosemary randomly into the dough.

9. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 15–20 minutes or until risen and deep golden brown. Serve warm.

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