My first post – I can’t believe I have actually done it!
I spent most of my last maternity leave in Florence, Italy where my husband was conducting research at the European University Institute in Florence. Somewhat ridiculously in hindsight, my daughters and I travelled out to join my him when my youngest daughter was only four weeks old.
One of my favourite foods ever, is one of the simplest staples of life in Florence and Italy in general – Foccacia.
A daily staple, I bought this from the local pizzicheria - a deli selling cheese and cooked meats but also home made pasta, sauces and anti pasta. Back in Aberdeen, however, good focaccia is not easy to come by. My cravings for this glorious salty, oily, chewy bread only increased with pregnancy. I made my own...
500g 00 flour
2 Tablespoons of olive oil & extra to drizzle
7g sachet instant yeast
300ml lukewarm water
Pinch of sugar
2 teaspoons cooking salt
Sea salt to top
To a wide bowl, add the flour and 2 teaspoons of cooking salt. Add the sachet of yeast and stir in with your hands or a fork.
Add the two tablespoons of olive oil bringing the mix together and add the 300ml of water. Knead for approximately 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth. You can add more water and flour if necessary. (I usually keep a little of extra at my side as you will inevitably need one or the other.)
Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave somewhere warm for about 90 minutes (I use the airing cupboard) – it should double in size.
While this is happening lightly grease a large baking tray with some olive oil. I actually use my grill pan as this is the perfect size for a loaf – approximately 30 x 40 cm.
Transfer the dough to the baking tray and spread it out with your fingers. Gently rub some olive oil over the dough and sprinkle with sea salt. Cover again and put it back in its warm place for another half hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 200oC (180oC fan).
Drizzle a little more olive oil and salt over the dough and bake for 30 minutes or until crusty and lovely and golden. You can also sprinkle with dry or fresh rosemary just prior to baking or even add some finely sliced onion at the second rising stage. I love it simply with the salt and oil.