Baking something savoury is quite unusual in our house and the beautiful aromas are also not the usual of vanilla and chocolate. Its gives an altogether different experience and happiness of long wait. Working with yeast is just amazing and with this focaccia is just amazing. I have read in “Baking with Julia”, in which she suggested 24 hrs. of slow rising in the freeze that gives the focaccia its characteristic chewy texture and surface bubbles.
I had made focaccia before with garlic infused and topping of cherry tomatoes, the result was satisfactory.
But this time I have made with whole wheat flour and with just olives and lots of basil. Summer is considered as the best time for baking breads and I made just baguette in summers, but better late than never. I adhore baking breads but proofing, rising are some of the steps that scare me I always prefer doing instant work. Whenever I bake a bread I always promise myself that more will come but I end up going lazy. But now you will see more breads in the coming months. Instead of one large tin I used small cups for baking and I give the dough a rest of 1 full day in the freeze.
Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread, which may be topped with herbs or other ingredients.
Focaccia doughs are similar in style and texture to pizza dough, consisting of high gluten flour, oil, water salt and yeast. It is typically rolled out or pressed by hand into a thick layer of dough and then baked in a oven. Bakers often puncture the bread with a knife to relieve bubbling on the surface of the bread.
I enjoyed my focaccia as it is but all other had it as a sandwich and this time with whole wheat guilt was not felt.
Recipe adapted from Veg recipes of India
for the focaccia dough:
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup water
- 1.5 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 3/4 tsp dry active yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
for the herb oil:
- 1 tbsp chopped basil or any fresh herb or a mix of herbs
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ or ½ tsp red chili powder or paprika
preparing the herb oil:
- rinse, dry and chop the basil leaves.
- warm the olive oil in a bowl.
- add the basil leaves, red chili powder or paprika.
- stir well and let the basil leaves steep in the warm oil for atleast 30 minutes.
preparing the focaccia bread:
- warm the 1 cups water in a bowl.
- dissolve the sugar in the water.
- add the active dry yeast and stir.
- allow this mixture to sit at room temperature for 10-12 minutes or till the mixture becomes frothy and bubbles up.
- if kneading in a stand mixer – in a mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook attachment, add the flour, salt and oil.
- mix at the lower speed of the mixer.
- add the yeast solution.
- then with the speed level required for your mixer for kneading dough, knead the dough for some minutes, till its smooth, elastic, soft and slightly sticky.
- if kneading by hands, then first add about 1 cups flour, salt and oil in the bowl.
- mix with a wooden spoon.
- then add ½ of the yeast solution and mix again.
- add 1/2 cup flour and remaining half of the yeast mixture.
- continue to mix and stir.
- add the last 1/2 cup flour and stir till the mixture begins to hold itself.
- remove from the bowl and on a smooth work surface, knead the dough till its smooth, elastic, soft and slightly sticky.
- keep the dough in a greased deep bowl.
- cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or lid or plastic wrap.
- you can also lightly coat the dough with olive oil or water and then keep in a deep bowl and cover the bowl.
- allow the dough to leaven for 1:30 mins or 2 hours.(at this stage I keep the dough in the freeze for 1 full day for slow rising)
- when the dough is leavened and doubled, remove from the bowl.
- flatten the dough on your work surface.
- divide into four small parts for making four small focaccia.
- grease the pan with olive oil.
- flatten one part of the dough lightly and place on the pan.
- flatten a bit on the pan.
- now pour the herb oil equally among all the individual cups on the dough.
- with your fingers, indent or dimple the flour keeping approx ½ inch width in the bread and continue to flatten as you do so.
- cover with a lid or kitchen towel and allow to leaven again for 30-40 minutes.
- preheat the oven to at least 20 minutes before you bake the focaccia.
- preheat to 200 degrees C..
- sprinkle some salt on the bread.
- now bake the bread in the hot oven for 20 minutes or till the surface has become golden.
- remove from the pan and allow the bread to cool on wired racks.
- slice the basil focaccia when warm or cooled down and serve immediately.