Homemade focaccia is a delicious thing. Hard to resist, which is possibly why I hadn’t made it for a while. I have tried several recipes and my favourite is this Richard Bertinet one, from his book “Dough”.
It uses his basic olive dough and has two short resting periods after the initial rise. There is something quite therapeutic about prodding the dough to make the distinctive dimples, and you can make them as uniform or as random as you like. Each time I try to make them random but find I can’t quite bring myself to and end up making quite a uniform pattern…
I belong to a Book Group (yes, I am that sort of age now!) and every month or so we take it in turns to host the evening. There are usually seven of us and we tend to do snacks and dips, a cheeseboard and maybe some quiche or pizza. And of course a glass or two of wine… This month it was my turn which meant that I provided the hospitality and, more scarily, chose the next book for us to read.
This time we had read “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn and unusually we all liked it. Yes, we do actually spend some time discussing the book! I had managed to come up with a shortlist of three for mine, and had gone for a choice of cultures: Indian, Chinese or British.
I have been trying to get my Book Club to read something by Lisa See for years, ever since I read “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan”, but they secretly think it’s chick lit and resist. So “Shanghai Girls” was discounted and it was between “The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life” by William Nicholson and “Secret Daughter” by Shilpi Somaya Gowda.
The British novel was one that I had seen referenced in a few articles and sounded interesting. The Indian novel was recommended to me by another blogger, Fransi from Three Hundred Sixty Five. Thank you Fransi! I read it in less than 24 hours on holiday and I thought there would be plenty in there for discussion. And that was the one that won the vote so I hope my Book Club friends enjoy it as much as I did.
But back to the focaccia which I thought would go with the dips and the cheese, or could just be eaten on its own:
500g strong white bread flour
20g coarse semolina (or extra flour)
8g dried yeast
50g olive oil
Extra olive oil
Put the flour and semolina, if using, into a bowl and add the yeast to one side and the salt to the other.
Add the olive oil and water and mix together.
Turn out and knead for around 5-10 minutes, until it starts to look silky and feel smooth.
Put the dough into an oiled bowl and cover. If you use cling film to cover the bowl it is a good idea to oil it.
Leave for an hour or until at least doubled in size.
Oil a baking tray and using the help of a dough scraper, carefully turn out the dough onto the baking tray. Drizzle up to four tablespoons of olive oil over the top of the dough and, using your fingers, carefully push and prod the dough so that it spreads from the centre towards the edges of the tray:
Cover and leave to rest for about 45 minutes.
Then prod the dough with your fingertips to give the dimples, cover and leave for another 30 minutes. Set the oven to 250°C.
Sprinkle the focaccia with rock salt and put into the hot oven, turning it down immediately to 220°C.
Bake for around 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow if tapped.
Remove from the oven and slide onto a cooling rack. Brush with more olive oil while it is still hot.
Enjoy with good friends or a good book!