When it comes to baking breads, things could be a little tricky. You need to get the measurements right (always use a digital scale), consistency of the dough matters and then of course how you proof that dough makes a huge difference.
When I ventured into taming the wild yeast, my first bread was like a rock hard stone :( But that didn't disuade me from trying again! Instant yeast came to my rescue and I have never picked up a bread commercially produced, since then.
Baking breads requires the 3Ps - Practise, Perfection and loads of Patience!!
The best ones cannot be made in a jiffy, but yes to all the amateur bakers out there - this is a simple, easy to follow recipe. So do give it a try and let me know how things turned out for you. This one is a Rosemary Focaccia with pickled chillies to give it that extra zing in every bite. Just warm up the slices a wee bit, slather over some butter generously and sip your cuppa for a little nirvana escapade. Trust me - you will not regret it :)
Proofing of the dough and allowing it to rise twice is an extremely crucial step - so do not try to cut short the time as this will directly impact how light & airy or a lump of mass your bread ends up to be. If the dough gets sticky, it is perfectly fine. Do not add extra flour to make it pliable - you are not making rotis here. Strictly follow the measurements as required in any baking recipe. After all, cooking is an art but baking is science :) so guesstimation does not work here.
Here's what you need to make some Rosemary Focaccia
Prep time 30-35mins
Baking time 15-20mins
Rising and proving time 1.5hrs to 2.5hrs
1 tbsp - Dried yeast
425g - Strong white bread flour, extra for dusting
2 tsp - Salt
1 tsp - Sugar
90ml - Olive oil
1/2 tsp - freshly ground blackpepper
Leaves from 4-5 Rosemary sprigs (you can also use dry leaves, available in bottles)
Pickled Chilli (optional) for garnish
1 tsp - Sesame seeds for garnish
300ml - Lukewarm water
Unsalted butter for greasing/brushing
1. Sprinkle the yeast over 4tbsp of warm water. Leave it for 5 mins (until it turns frothy), stirring only once.
2. In a large deep bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar and make a well in the centre.
3. Now in the centre of the well that you've created - Add 4tbsp olive oil, yeast mixture and 240 ml lukewarm water.
4. Gradually mix all the ingredients by pushing it to the centre by using your hands , to form a smooth dough.
5. The dough should be soft without any lumps and sticky. Do not add more flour at this stage, you may however rub your hands with oil and knead the dough for 5-7minutes.
6. Keep it in an oiled bowl, cling wrap to avoid moisture loss . Leave it to rise for 1 - 1.5hrs in a warm place , until it doubles in size.
7. Meanwhile, pre heat the oven to 180C for 10mins. Grease your baking pan and set aside.
8. Remove the dough that has risen, knock out all the air by rolling it out evenly on a flour'd surface. Place it in your baking pan, garnish with rosemary leaves, chillies, sprinkle pepper powder and drizzle olive oil all over it. Let it rest for 30 to 45 minutes in a warm place , which will allow the dough to rise once again.
9. Pork the dough all over by using your finger knuckle to make dimples. Place it in the oven and let it bake for 15- 20 mins until a nice golden brown crust is formed on its top.
10. Transfer to a wire rack, brush with butter to have a nice soft crust and allow it to cool down completely prior to slicing it out.
That's it !! Your Focaccia is ready.
I personally like them with a nice cup of piping hot coffee, or tomato soup on days when Im under the weather or simply buttered up like a toast for breakfast.