Focaccia

I recently got a new cook book for my birthday. Gill Meller’s ‘Gather’ and it is all kinds of beautiful. Rustic, hearty and all about good, fresh ingredients. The dream.

It’s not a wholly vegan cook book in any way, but I like to flick through the pages, choose things I like the look of and challenge myself to see how I can veganise them.

So this week, I’m all about bread! I’ve been meaning to practice my bread making for a while now and thought I’d start with this focaccia from Gill’s book. As breads go, focaccia is one of the easiest and you can be pretty versatile with what you put on top of it. Gill Meller goes for bacon, red onion, garlic and lots of fresh rosemary and sage in his book. Obviously I don’t eat bacon, so I opted for olives, red onion, garlic, fresh sage leaves, olive oil and a whole load of salt and pepper and I seriously loved it!

As you can see by my photo, I did slightly over bake. But I do think its important to not only show all the amazing things you bake but also the bakes that don’t come out so well. Things don’t always go to plan, and that’s fine!

Anyway, here is the recipe below with my little tweaks.

Ingredients:

  • 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp instant dried yeast
  • 10g sea salt
  • 50 ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 400 ml water
  • 1 red onion, chopped roughly
  • 1 cup of fresh sage leaves, washed
  • 3 big garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of olives pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp mixed dried herbs
  1. Mix together the flour, yeast, salt, olive oil and water in a large mixing bowl. Give it all a good mix and it should create a very sticky dough. Don’t worry about adding more flour, it’s meant to be sticky!
  2. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. As the dough is really sticky, I would strongly advise using a mixer with a dough hook and let that do all the hard work. It should produce a dough that is sticky, soft and smooth.
  3. Then, lightly oil a large bowl, and place the dough in one big lump into the oiled bowl. Cover with cling film tightly, and put in a warm place to prove for 1.5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  4. In the meantime, put a tbsp or so of olive oil into a frying pan and fry your chopped red onion for 3 minutes on a medium heat. Then add your garlic and dried mixed herbs, season well and fry for a further 5 minutes. You want the onions to go brown on the edges and begin to caramelise. Then take off the heat.
  5. Once your dough has proved, lightly oil a baking tray measuring roughly 22 x 30cm. Lightly dust this tray with a bit of flour and turn out the dough onto it. Gently press out the dough to the sides with your fingers so its a rough rectangle shape.
  6. Evenly spread your cooked onions and garlic over the dough and press these into the dough. You then want to remove your sage leaves from the stalks and stick them into the dough. Press all your toppings into the dough with your fingers.
  7. Then, put some cling film to completely cover your dough and leave it again in a warm place to prove for a further 35 minutes.
  8. Once it has proved for the second time add your olives to the dough. Press all your toppings into the dough again and season the whole thing with salt and pepper. Add a generous drizzle of olive oil over and place it on the middle shelf of your pre heated oven at 190 degrees celsius for 35 minutes, or until it is lightly golden.
  9. Leave to cool slightly, but eat it warm.

Laura

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