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Olives focaccia bread


Ciao, welcome back to my blog!

One thing I have learned during the first lockdown back in March is that making your own bread is fun and easy despite what I used to think before!

Now during lockdown 2.0 I decided to move on and master focaccia, which is a staple in Italian baking. It is very similar to the classic bread dough but with the addition of olive oil and fancy ingredients such as olives, nuts and seeds or vegetables.

I like to keep things simple and I am all about rustic flavours these days: it might be that it's colder and I need more substantial meals.

This amazing olive focaccia is perfect for the weekend: you can cut it in a half and fill it with your favourite cheese and ham or you could enjoy it as it is as a side for your main dish.


This is by far one of the best focaccia recipe you can find online, even if I say so myself. The reason is that many of the blogs and kitchen websites recipes I have consulted during my first attempts are very simplistic and they don't include small details that I discovered, makes a huge difference in the process. And that's why at the beginning of my baking adventure I was frustrated that I didn't get the same beautiful results.

They just don't tell you everything!


My method is extremely easy despite the several steps and I found it personally very relaxing, especially when the weather is grim.

I usually like to prepare the dough first thing in the morning and then prepare the focaccia in the late afternoon so it will be ready for dinner.

The smell of fresh bread is like nothing else!


Ingredients:

500g organic strong flour

360g lukewarm water

2 tbs of dried yeast or some sourdough starter

1 tbsp of sugar

2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp of salt

olives (I like the green but feel free to use the black ones if you prefer)


First of all, dissolve the dried yeast in the lukewarm water(be careful: not too warm or it will kill the yeast!)


Combine together all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then add the water with the yeast and the oil.


With the help of a spatula or a wooden spoon mix the ingredients roughly.

Don't worry if it looks a bit too dry, it will be fine!


When the dough looks to be a bit more even, start using your hands and work it. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes until you'll obtain a soft elastic ball (it's ready when it doesn't stick to your hands)


Cover the bowl with some cling film and wrap it in a blanket to keep it warm, this will help it to raise.


After 3-4 hours (depending on your room temperature) it should be doubled in size.


Sprinkle a bit of flour on the raised dough and gently take it off the bowl.

This is not the time to handle the dough a lot because it will deflate.


We want the focaccia to be tall and soft but crispy on the outside and that's exactly how you can achieve that:

Oil a rather small and shallow oven tray (25 x 35cm) and sprinkle a bit of salt, then place the dough on it.

Press your fingers into the dough to make dimples and add the olives.

Lastly, drizzle another generous amount of olive oil and sprinkle with salt.


Don't skip this passage because it is the most important one: the dough needs now to rest for 45 more minutes as it has been "stressed out" by our touching it and therefore it needs to grow more in order to be tall and soft.


After 30 minutes have passed, heat the oven at the max temperature so it will be ready when the dough has fully risen again.


Start the baking on the lower shelf in order to make a crispy crust on the bottom (it will take 10-15 minutes, depending of the temperature of your oven).


Then transfer the focaccia on the middle shelf for other 15 minutes so the middle part will cook properly.


Conclude moving the focaccia again, this time on the higher shelf and set the oven on grilling to make sure the top part will be golden. It will take 8-10 minutes.


When the focaccia is ready, open the oven slightly and lower the oven temperature at 140 degrees and let it finish cooking for another 10 minutes (in Italian it is called "a spiffero" cooking).

This final step will consolidate the crust so that I will stay crunchy even the following days.


Enjoy!

Thank you so much for reading my post today!

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Have a great weekend!