Friday, August 24, 2012

Focaccia Bread

There are few things in life that can compare to the warmth of freshly baked bread. After multiple failures, Nancy Silverton's recipe came to my rescue. I had to adapt it to ensure it resulted in perfect bread. Humid is good for bread, the problem is the flour we get here, which has a low gluten percentage, and the yeast, which never rises as it should.

Nevertheless, I won the challenge this time around, learning from my previous mistakes, to create the perfect loaf of heavenly bread. It's not hard to make bread, but definitely time consuming. At the end, the effort is worth it.

I'm thankful to Del Monte for throwing up this challenge to Indian bloggers! If it wasn't for them, I'd have dodged the idea of making bread forever.

You can browse through some more finger lickin' recipes on their website World Foody, or like them on Facebook ( to see what their chefs are cooking up!

Focaccia Bread
- heavily adapted from Nancy Silverton's recipe

This recipe has two parts - the first step is to make the focaccia sponge, while the second is the dough.

For the sponge:

1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup all purpose flour (maida)
1 1/2 tsp yeast (I used Topsal active dry yeast)

Sprinkle yeast over warm water in a plastic bowl. Add in the flour when the mixture becomes foamy.

Mix everything together using a spatula or a wooden spoon. Cover three times with cling wrap to ensure that no air seeps in. Let this mixture proof for 24 hours. After 24 hours, it will be bubbly and thick.

For the focaccia dough:

1 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp warm water, mixed with 1 tsp honey
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp Del Monte olive oil
Focaccia sponge
1 1/2 tbsp yeast
3 cups + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp salt
Handful of sliced Del Monte stuffed green olives and pitted black olives
8-10 garlic cloves
5-6 fresh basil leaves
1 tsp ground black pepper

In a mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over the warm water. Wait for the mixture to become foamy. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, sponge, and sifted all purpose flour. Using a hand/stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine all the ingredients at a low speed for two minutes.

Increase speed to medium and add the salt without stopping the mixer. Keep mixing for 5-8 minutes, till the dough starts to slightly pull away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is not pulling away, add 1-2 tbsp flour.

Grease a large bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover tightly with cling wrap, placing 3-4 layers of cling wrap over the bowl. Seal the bowl further by wrapping the perimeter with more cling wrap.

Let the dough rise in a warm spot  (24C to 26C is good) for two hours. Lightly dust the counter with flour and flip the dough on to the floured surface. Place the palm of your right hand on one end of the dough, and stretch the other end using your left hand. Fold the stretched end over the the other end. Repeat three times.

Place the dough in the greased bowl with the folded end placed at the bottom. Cover with cling wrap and let proof for two hours.

Pour 1/4 cup olive oil in a cake pan (I used the microwave tawa that came with my convection microwave) to grease it. Flip the dough carefully onto the pan. While flipping the dough, take care not to deflate it and handle it very gently. The dough will be very soft.

Using gentle pressure, stretch the dough to the edges of the pan. Gently press the olives, garlic cloves, and basil leaves into the dough. Let rise for 1 1/2 hour.

Preheat oven to 200C (I bake in a convection microwave, if using a conventional oven, increase temperature by 20C). Brush the dough liberally with more olive oil.

Bake for 40 minutes till the bread is golden and sounds hollow when you knock on it.

Cheers to a beautiful loaf!

1 comment:

  1. blog is very informative and gracefully..your guideline is very good.Thank you...
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