April Daring Baker’s Challenge: Foccacia

IMG_1894“For the month of April Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch”

So foccacia…. damn, more yeast. Not my favourite stuff in the world as I’m always scared it’s not going to workout alright; cakes are so much more reliable. However, they say practice makes perfect and what better way to practice than with a foccacia dough. It’s simple, versatile and makes a lovely addition to a lunch table, like mine did. In the future I’d like to try wholemeal or a sourdough version, but let’s learn to walk before trying to run. I topped mine with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil and parmesan, but the possibilities are endless. Even a dessert foccacia is possible!

Ingredients

385g all-purpose (plain) flour

1/2 teaspoon  salt

1 teaspoon  white sugar

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon garlic paste

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 pinch ground black pepper

1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil

1¼ cups (300 ml) milk

15g grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Toppings: sun-dried tomatoes, basil, parmesan, garlic

Directions

In a bowl mix the milk, yeast and sugar and wait until it becomes foamy and bubbly (This indicates that your yeast is active, if the yeast doesn’t bubble and foam it has gone bad and you can’t use it)

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, , garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) parmesan cheese and black pepper.

Mix in the vegetable oil, then add the milk-yeast mixture.

Stir with a wooden spoon till the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic (around 10 minutes)

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil.

Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in size. (If you are tight on time you could heat your oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 then turn it off and place the bowl with the dough in it)

Center your oven rack, preheat oven to hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8.

Punch dough down; place on greased baking sheet. Pat into a ½ -inch (15 mm) thick rectangle or any shape you desire.

To give the dough the dimples effect, use your fingertips , pushing gently all over the surface of the dough

Place your selected topping

Brush top generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, rosemary and salt.

Allow the dough to rest for 10-15 minutes

Bake in preheated hot 450°F/230°C/gas mark 8 oven for 15 minutes, or until the sidesbegin to brown then place under the broiler (grill) till the top becomes golden brown.

Serve warmIMG_1896

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