I have been baking for a really long time now but breads was an unchartered territory until early this year. Attended a short course on basic bread making & since then have been falling in love (more & more) with yeast & flour. Baking your own breads gives you utmost satisfaction, not to forget, breads are completely free from additives, preservatives etc that is always a worry when buying breads from bakery.
Have baked this focassia for friends & received encouraging compliments about the same & I am sure you will definitely give it a try. Try this on a weekend with a glass of wine or mocktails (as I do) or just enjoy this with a hot bowl of soup during winters / monsoons. Total Bliss !!
Do read the detailed recipe with notes & suggestions to enjoy Focassia.
Recipe of Focassia with Bell Peppers & olives
Recipe Inspired by – Jamie Oliver’s Three Flavour Focassia
For the dough –
- All purpose Flour / Maida – 250 gms or 2 cups of 125 gms each
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Castor Sugar – 1 tsp
- Instant Yeast – 1.5 tsp
- Olive Oil / Butter (melted) – 1-2 tblsp for kneading the dough + 1 tblsp to drizzle over the focassia before baking + ½ tsp for greasing the bowls / tins
- Lukewarm Water – 1 cup approx.
Herbs for flavouring the Focassia –
- Oregano – 1 tsp
- Rosemary – 1 tsp
- Sea salt – few grains (don’t replace with table salt)
- Red Chilli flakes – as per taste (optional)
- Fresh Basil leaves
For Toppings –
- Finely sliced capsicum or bell peppers & sliced olives
Post Baking –
- ½ to 1 tsp of Olive oil or melted butter to be brushed over the bread. In case you like, use extra virgin olive oil.
- Step 1 – In case you don’t have instant yeast, take active dry yeast of the same qty & proof it. Once yeast blooms, add the mixture to the flour. PS – I prefer using instant yeast in all my bakes.
- Step 2 – Grease a big bowl enough to hold a risen dough with few drops of oil.
- In a separate bowl, add the flour, add salt, yeast (incase instant yeast), sugar & knead the dough using lukewarm water. Add the water slowly & ensure the dough doesn’t get too sticky. Do not add the entire quantity of water while kneading.
- Now place the dough on the kitchen platform or a board & put 1 tblsp of melted butter & knead the dough for roughly 7-10 mins.
- During the 10 mins of kneading, keep adding oil / butter slowly. The dough should be very soft to touch after kneading.
- Now carefully place the kneaded dough in a greased bowl / container for proofing (Step 2) in a warm place. Ensure you cover the dough either with a damp cloth (not wet) or keep the dough in a container with lid.
- The proving takes about 1 hour to 1.5 hours depending on weather conditions. The dough should be double in size.
- Once the dough is proved, knock off the air by punching the dough few times. Now sprinkle some flour on the board / platform, knead the dough lightly for 5 mins, place them in a greased tin & spread them with your hands. Gently push the dough into the corners.
- Now place this greased tin for further proving in a warm place preferably for 20-30 mins.
- Preheat the oven before baking for atleast 10 mins (hot oven) at 200 degrees.
- After the bread has once again risen, using your finger tips, make dimples in the bread, sprinkle the herbs (check herb ingredients for toppings above). Place the vegetables / toppings & slightly press it to the dough so that they don’t fall off while slicing.
- Drizzle some olive oil just before placing it in the oven.
- Bake this beauty at 200 degrees for 20 – 30 mins or until golden brown.
- Once baked, brush a bit of butter on top or drizzle some extra virgin olive oil sprinkle some red chilli flakes (optional). Serve warm or cool.
My suggestions for enjoying a good focassia –
- Pairs well with cheese & some soup (preferably a Minestrone or Tomato)
- A glass of wine & focassia can be a great party starter / Antipasti option.
- Toppings suggestion – Caramelized onions & cherry tomatoes, eggplants / aubergines grilled with some mushrooms, Red onions, jalapenos & gherkins.
- Water used for proofing & kneading the dough should be lukewarm & not hot. Hot water kills the yeast.
- Kneading makes the dough soft & ensures proper mixing of all ingredients, ensures soft loaf. So ensure you knead the dough for a good 7-10 mins.
- Point No. 7 – During summers, the dough rises fast as compared to winters / monsoon so your dough might take 35-40 mins. The dough should be double in size. That’s the only indication.