Ever since I moved into the present flat of ours I have become kind of a plant aficionado. Most of the things around look edible in my eyes. I pluck few leaves and sniff them to see if they give out any scent, pluck berries, fruits etc and research on their details with some vague information. It wasn’t a waste of time at all. Among quite a few other stuffs, I also discovered that the outrageously growing bush all around our estate is Rosemary! Wow. I was quite exited and have been looking out for recipes that use rosemary. Talking about rosemary, it is a herb with quite hard and spiky leaves and that has a mint-like smell.
Among the entire set of recipes that I came across, focaccia was something that really fascinated me. I have also come across some lamb shank recipes that use rosemary for flavouring. Rosemary grows wildly like any grass or bush you see anywhere. I thought I have to use into something before I shift from here and decided to give a go with focassia. I referred James Martin’s recipe for the basic dough but tweaked it much by adding Sundried tomatoes in olive oil
Focaccia is an Italian staple which is enjoyed by old world bakers as a snack between laborious efforts of bread baking. Focassia has ever since made a name for itself as a premier sandwich loaf. This rustic recipe with rosemary and sundried tomatoes through out can be made into 2 smaller loaves or one large loaf and used in sandwiches ~ Sandwiches Panini and Wraps by Dwayne Ridgeway.
I made a swiss oatmeal soup to go along with it and it tasted great. I read focassia is something like a pizza base, but I thought it had its own difference. The bread was slightly chewy and crumbly rather than soft and tear-apart kind of texture. You can try your own variations of it like adding black olives, cheese, tomatoes, different herbs etc. Here is the one that I baked last week and this goes to 5th World Bread Day.
500g Bread flour (3 cups plus 6 Tablespoons)
1 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon castor sugar
1 teaspoon castor sugar
2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
300 mls tepid (Lukewarm) water
3 Tablespoon olive oil (I used flavoured oil from the sundried tomato Jar)
75g (1/2 cup) chopped sundried tomato in flavoured olive oil
Few extra twigs of rosemary
1. In a large bowl sift flour, salt, sugar, yeast, chopped rosemary and mix well.
2. Add 2 Tablespoon of oil and rub well. Gradually mix in the water and knead for about 8-10 minutes until a soft, smooth and elastic dough forms. When the dough is smooth, smear the dough with the remaining tablespoon of oil. The dough should be elastic but not sticky at all.
3. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover it loosely with oiled cling film. Leave to rise in a warm place for about 1-2 hours or until the dough has risen well and has doubled in size.
4. Knock back the dough by punching it down with fist. Add chopped sundried tomatoes and knead for couple of minutes to incorporate them well into the dough.
5. Lightly flour a work area and roll the dough into ¾ inch thick and 9” round. You can also divide the dough into 2 smaller loaves instead of a making a single massive loaf. You can also make it in rectangle. Place it on a greased baking tray and leave it to rise for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. If the weather is dry, like in the UK, cover it loosely with oiled cling film (If the cling film is not oiled, dough will stick to it and make a mess).
6. Meanwhile heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Take off the cling film and make several indentations with your fingers all over the surface of the dough. Lightly brush with olive oil (I used oil in the sundried tomato jar) and lightly insert few rosemary twigs into the indentations.
7. Bake for around 20 minutes or until golden brown all over. If you tap the underside of the bread at this point, I should sound hollow if it is well cooked. Cool on a wire rack and slice into wedges if made in circles or squares if made into large rectangles. Serve alongside your favourite soup or use it in sandwiches.
1.I used plain flour instead of bread flour.
2. It is important to oil the cling film as the dough sticks to it otherwise.