I’ve never been a great lover of bread, although a good bread basket at a restaurant is pretty hard to resist! Making your own bread is a very different story though and I remember the enormous sense of satisfaction I felt when I made my own during my week at Ashburton Cookery School. I find the more I get into cooking, the more I want to try making everything myself.
Lately I’ve been thinking of giving bread making a go again and have read that focaccia is one of the simplest to make. I love the richness of the olive oil and picking the salty crystals off the top. When Haywards Pickles got in touch to ask me to recreate one of their recipes, finding a recipe for focaccia seemed like serendipity to me and the twist of adding pickled sweet onions to a basic focaccia recipe sounded right up my street.
- 600g strong white flour plus extra to dust
- 50g pitted black olives, chopped
- 6 Haywards sweet & mild silverskin onions, sliced. Plus 6 halved to garnish
- 7g Rosemary, chopped
- 14g Fast action yeast
- 350ml warm water
- 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle and grease
- Sea salt
- Balsamic vinegar and olive oil to dip
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, olives, onions, rosemary, yeast and a pinch of sea salt
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the warm water and oil. Combine well with a wooden spoon or a spatula in a figure of eight motion
- Knead the mixture by folding it into itself over and over again. Do this for 10 minutes then take it out of the bowl, stretch it out between each hand
- Place on a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Place back into the bowl, drizzle with olive oil and cover with cling. Leave to prove (double in size) for 1 hour in a warm place
- Grease a flat tray with oil, then remove the cling film from the bowl and knock the air out of the dough with your fist
- On a lightly floured surface, knead for 5 minutes and then stretch and shape the dough into a rectangle shaped tray. With the end of a teaspoon or your thumb, make 12 incisions in the dough and fill with the halved sweet onions
- Sprinkle with sea salt and cover with a clean damp tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for 30 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 220c/200c fan/gas mark 7, then bake for 20 minutes until risen and golden
- Allow to rest for 5 minutes and serve with balsamic vinegar and olive oil to dip in.
Until we eat again!