Celebrating Food! Celebrating Life!

Rosemary and Olive Focaccia

Focaccia
When it comes to breads, I’d always have a bias for crusty breads to the spongy soft ones. Not that I don’t like the latter of course. Just that to me, the hearty and somewhat earthy qualities, together with the robust textures of a rustic bread have some kinda appeal which soft loaves lack. Its like an entirely different animal together. And of course, the major plus point for a soup and stew lover like me, is how well these breads go with the liquids, lapping up the flavours with ease and soaking in all the goodness with great relish!

Focaccia is one of those rustic breads which has so much character on its own, exuding the heady perfumes of rosemary and garlic infused olive oil. And what more, its a simple and fuss-free bread to make. And here’s a very forgiving recipe for all who are interested to try!

Focaccia

Ingredients

300g bread flour

1/2 tsp dry yeast

20g caster sugar

1/4 tsp salt

50ml olive oil

200 ml warm water

6 sprigs of fresh rosemary

3-4 cloves of garlic

15-20 black olives

4-5 slices of sundried tomatoes in olive oil

Focaccia

Method

activate the yeast by first adding caster sugar, yeast and 50ml of warm water in a glass and stir thoroughly.

leave the concoction to stand for 30 min until it begins to froth and reek of alcohol. This means that fermentation has begun and the yeast is active.

while waiting for the yeast mixture to become activated, prepare the rest of the ingredients

pit the olives if they aint already pitted

slice the olives into thin rings

remove the needle-like leaves from 4 sprigs of rosemary by clasping the ends of one stalk with your middle and index finger of one hand and pulling the stalk with the other hand towards the thicker part of the stalk.

bruise the garlic cloves with the sides of a knife but leave the skin membrane intact

chop half of the rosemary leaves finely and set aside.

cut sun-dried tomatoes into small morsels. Work in this order so that the cutting knife requires only one washing.

Infuse the rosemary and garlic into the olive oil by placing garlic, olive oil and HALF of the rosemary leaves into a saucepan and heat gently until one can smell the herby aroma. Do not allow the olive oil to boil over. Watch the flame as olive oil has a very low smoke point.

Leave the oil to cool and begin to work on the bread dough

In a mixing bowl, place bread flour, salt and mix coarsely with a spoon. Add yeast concoction, 2 tablespoons of the rosemary and garlic infused olive oil and some warm water. Using a spatula, mix the ingredients until a sticky dough is formed. Using a hook attachment, knead the dough with a mixer until it is less sticky with gradual additions of warm water in between. Do not all add all the water at once as the amount of moisture retained in the bread flour varies. Knead until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the mixing bowl and comes off in one smooth lump. Use more bread flour if too much water was added.

Remove the dough from the mixer and hand-knead it until it is smooth, glossy and very elastic

Cover the dough with clingfilm and leave it to prove at room temperature for 1 h or until it has risen to about double its volume

Flatten out the air and knead the morsels of sun-dried tomatoes, remaining half of chopped rosemary and half of the olive rings into dough

Place the dough onto a non-stick baking sheet and flatten it outwards by pressing with the fingertips, coaxing the dough to the ends of the baking tray

Cover again with cling film and leave to prove for another 30 min

Dip an index finger into olive oil and gently make some dimple-like indentations about 1″ apart all around the dough. Brush the top generously with olive oil with hands or remaining sprigs of rosemary acting as a makeshift pastry brush.

arrange the remaining olive rings and sprinkle more rosemary leaves on the surface.

bake in a pre-heated oven at 170C for 20-25 min until the surface becomes golden brown.

leave on rack to cool, slice and serve with balsamic vinegar and olive oil dip, your favorite stew or soup, or even use as a sandwich bread!
Focaccia
I’d used sun-dried tomatoes in this recipe simply because I love the acridity it provides. But this is entirely optional.
Focaccia
This was the “alpha version” i’d baked last week. It looked so beautiful before it was baked with striking colours from the sanguine morsels of tomatoes against the brush of green from rosemary and ebony rings of olives.
Focaccia
Alas all was not meant to be as the tomatoes burnt under the heat. I kinda knew this was gonna happen but wilful me went ahead and tried anyway, opting for a lower oven temperature. This was a lousy move as the tomatoes charred anyway to became little crisp pieces of carbon, while the bread body failed to brown owing to the compromised oven temperature being insufficient hot for the Malliard reaction to occur.
Focaccia
Beta version” – hand kneading the tomatoes, bits of olive and rosemary into the dough directly while keeping fingers crossed at the same time. pun intended!
Focaccia
tried to keep all the ingredients under wraps, quite literally.
Focaccia
dimpling that created little olive oil wells, characteristic of a traditional italian focaccia. Or so i’d read!
Focaccia
Alas, beta version turned out more satisfactory!
Focaccia
before going under the guillotine to be dismembered.
Focaccia
Making a nice lil’ smoked salmon sandwich for myself! :)

I am submitting this entry to Aspiring Bakers #8 – Bread Seduction (June 2011)  hosted by Jasmine from Sweetylicious.

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27 responses

  1. oh alan, this looks great! the medley of colors – green, red & black look really tempting. i’ve bookmarked this recipe, can’t wait to try it out! i can’t believe you hv the olive pitter, omg. this is the 1st time i’ve seen such a gadget, literally went :-O

    June 14, 2011 at 2:31 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      hi Evan! the trinity of green, red and black really looks good on the first version but the tomatoes got burnt in the end, Let me know if you’d discovered a way to solve this problem! I’d really love for the tomatoes to be ON the bread itself. :)

      I didn’t know I have an olive pitter until I searched online to buy one and saw this curious lil’ contraption which look strangely familiar! Then I’d realised that a garlic crusher which my mum bought eons back could also double up as a pitter. And I havent got the slightly clue why she bought that in the first place! Too bad it doesn’t pit cherries though. :/

      June 14, 2011 at 12:30 pm

  2. wow, lovely! I love the smoked salmon sandwich! ;)

    June 14, 2011 at 7:29 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      haha that was my “tea sandwich” yesterday!

      June 14, 2011 at 12:30 pm

  3. Alan, give me any bread, soft or crusty I will “sapu” (clean up) all! If you give me your focaccia bread, I will be like a pig in mud! I can eat all kinds of olives straight from the tin and same goes to sundried tomatoes. You have all my favorite things in this bread, As always, the composition of your photos are so stunning, even a piece of “kosong” (plain) bread will look mouth watering after going through your camera. OH MAN!! what a torture to see and cannot taste.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:02 am

  4. Alan, Krystle is Quay Po’s middle name. I could not post my comment with my gmail account today. Strange.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:06 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      no worries Veronica! I recognised your cute avatar! Olives is quite an acquired taste and so is sun-dried tomatoes so I’m quite surprised to hear and at the same time, glad to know that there’s someone who shares the same tastebuds as me! lol

      I love so many of your recipes too, i.e. lemon curd, pig trotters and your rhubarb bakes which I’d been dying to try as soon as I get my hands on some of these elusive vegetables!

      June 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm

  5. i could just eat this bread on it ‘s own! yummy! now i’m itching to make one myself! haha

    June 14, 2011 at 10:12 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      yeah, its quite good on its own or just a balsamic vinegar with extra-virgin olive oil dip! Do try it!

      June 14, 2011 at 12:37 pm

  6. 哇,面包好漂亮喔:)

    June 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      哈哈, 献丑啦!

      June 14, 2011 at 10:29 pm

  7. I love focaccia and am currently living with the ones from Gardenia. Will probably make mine with onions and rosemary instead.

    June 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      Oh I didn’t know Gardenia carries focaccia as well. I was under the impression that they only make those soft spongy loaves.

      onions sounds like a brilliant idea, though I’d still opt to have to wrapped within the dough instead of the top. Caramelising onion slices under low flame in olive oil would probably be a good idea to help release those wonderful sweetness.

      In any case, the options are pretty much endless, jalapenos, bits of bacon, even salami, parma ham, shredded cheddar…just a few which I’m contemplating. :)

      June 14, 2011 at 10:35 pm

  8. Min

    Oh, your pictures are wonderful. I like focaccia too, will brush them with lots of olive oil and add in a big amount of herbs too :)

    June 14, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      thanks min! I like focaccia too! and like you, lots of herbs. I wonder if basil would go well with focaccias as well.

      June 14, 2011 at 10:37 pm

  9. Pingback: Rosemary Oil

  10. good evening alan! i could easily finish your whole loaf by myself! Looks beautiful! the charred tomatoes look like bak kwa! LOL! sorry not teasing you ..just for a laugh! i can read that you’re serious in all that you do. I agree that rustic and country breads tend to be more delicious to go with soups rather than our ever soft asian breads. So sorry that you have asked me a bread question earlier on my earlier post, i just remember to reply that yesterday after seeing your comments in my charseiew post last night. You can refer back to my chochip walnut meringue bread post. btw, besides a bake genius are you also a maths genius? alpha..beta..alpha..beta.alpha..beta..alpha…

    June 15, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      hi lena! thanks for taking time to reply my questions! Its a pity no writeups for your HK trip. really curious on what you ate and shopped! LOL

      me no bake and/or maths genius. just easier to keep tabs of the failed versions!

      June 15, 2011 at 10:46 pm

  11. yes, focaccia is fast and easy (: psst, i love that tool of yours! is sooo COOL! (: alan, you’re not only good at baking, those photos are so nicely taken too! (:

    June 18, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      Ya, easy and quick fix for a craving for a rustic bread. :)

      June 19, 2011 at 4:16 pm

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  13. Very nice baking! I usually use milk instead of water in my focaccia. Yours look fabulous! :)

    June 22, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      wow, milk in focaccia, like in a french hearth bread? that would be very interesting!

      June 22, 2011 at 11:55 pm

  14. Awesome looking focaccia!!

    June 22, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      thanks eelin! :)

      June 22, 2011 at 11:55 pm

  15. Jane

    I love this! You really did a great great job!

    June 30, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      thanks jane! :)

      July 1, 2011 at 10:41 am

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