I love this bread, a focaccia recipe I’ve been playing with, developing, and tweaking a while now. The 8-10 hour slow proofing develops the flavor of the bread nicely, and gives the crumb of the bread a wonderful texture; light with a good spring. The generous amounts of olive oil add another layer of flavor while increasing the keeping quality of the bread. Play with your own favorite flavors to top the bread with, or leave it plain – I personally have a soft spot for the rosemary, thyme, rock salt combo I’ve used below.
A couple of things about this dough:
- Yes, it really is just a scant half teaspoon of active dried yeast. The long slow proofing allows the yeast to multiply naturally. If you start with a larger amount, your dough will crawl out of its bowl and self implode after 8-10 hours, the yeasts having eaten all the available sugars in the flour. It’s a messy business.
- This dough is a very wet dough; you cannot handle it like regular bread dough, hence the “no knead”. Keep your bench surface and hands wet when working with it directly – yes, wet not floured – just trust me on this one ok?
- I’ve used 75% water to flour, and 2% salt to flour (By weight)
- 700 grams of standard wheat flour
- 525 grams warm water
- 2.5 grams active dried yeast (1/2 tsp)
- 14 grams salt (just shy 3 tsp)
- 1 tsp of sugar or honey dissolved into the 525 grams of water above.
- Decent glug of a good olive oil. (Not your best organic cold pressed virgin -save that for when you won’t be heating it to 200 degrees Celsius.)
- Sprinkle yeast into the warm water and dissolved sugar/honey and set aside for 5 minutes, allowing it to bloom and froth a little.
- Place flour and salt into a large bowl and whisk together with a fork to blend.
- Make a well in the center of the flour, and pour in the water/sugar/yeast.
- Add a decent glug of good olive oil.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold ingredients together until a rough scraggy dough has formed. Do not be pedantic! This scraggy looking ball will transform itself in its own sweet time into a smooth fragrant mass of goodness.
- Cover bowl with a tea towel and set aside for 8-10 hours. The dough pictured in this recipe was put together at 6.00am (ish) on Christmas Eve before getting ready for work, and left to do its thing until I got back to it around 4.00pm.
10 hours later…
- Wet your bench and hands, and *pour* the dough out on to the wet surface.Try not to let it double over on itself as it comes out, but rather, coax it out into one length. You’ll see the fine strands of gluten development in the dough as you do.
- Fun time! If you’re tactile like me you’ll enjoy this next bit. Make sure to keep your hands wet throughout.
- Gently begin to lift the dough from underneath with your hands, and stretching it out, working your way around the mass of dough until you have a large rectangle(ish) shape.
- Fold the dough into thirds lengthwise onto itself.
- Fold the dough right end to center and left end to center.
- Fold dough one final time, in half this time.
- Allow dough to rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, generously oil a baking tray. (using olive oil)
- Place dough on tray. Gently stretch the dough into a rough oval shape.
- Using your finger tips, *dimple* the bread dough all over. I make mine deep – all the way through the dough – the dimples will close up to mere suggestions of their former selves otherwise.
- Pop fresh rosemary needles into the dimples, rub fresh thyme over the top, add a generous dash of olive oil over the surface, and sprinkle with rock salt.
- Leave to rest again, while the oven heats to 200 degrees Celsius.
- Bake for 25 – 30 minutes.
- Allow to cool slightly on a baking rack before delivering to friends still warm.
Break bread with friends…