With temperatures in Dubai dipping slowly but surely, we’ve been having a lot of soup for dinner lately. A perfect accompaniment for a warm beverage like that is bread; although having the plain-old, store-bought variety can get monotonous after a while. On that thought, we decided to get experimental and make our very own Italian bread a.k.a Focaccia last week.
For those of you who do not know, Focaccia is an oven-baked flat bread topped with herbs and other ingredients, similar in appearance and texture to a thick-crust pizza. The best part of making Focaccia is that you can go cuckoo with the toppings; and the end result will vary with which way you go. Time consuming but not difficult to make, as long as you rest as much as the dough does 😉
2 tsps. dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1-1.5 cups of lukewarm water
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil & more for later
250 gms whole-wheat flour
100 gms all-purpose flour
1.25 tsp. salt
Fresh basil, roughly chopped
Garlic, cut in slices
Salt & Paprika, as needed
Olive oil, generous drizzle
- Dissolve the yeast and sugar in water. Allow it to stand for roughly 5 minutes or until the yeast starts to form bubbles.
- In a separate bowl, combine all the other ingredients: flour, salt and olive oil. Add the yeast and sugar mix and start kneading the dough with hand. Knead, adding flour if necessary for 15-20 minutes till the dough is elastic, smooth and crease-free. If using a mixer or food processor, beat at medium speed for 8-10 minutes until the dough is of the required consistency.
- Transfer the dough onto a separate bowl that has been oiled lightly. Cover with cling film and allow it to rest in a warm place for approximately 2 hours or until it doubles in size (inside the oven or microwave will be ideal).
- Punch the dough to release the air and spread it on to a rectangular baking tin that has been greased appropriately. Use your hands to flatten out the dough across the tin. Cover with cling film and allow it to rest for another 45 minutes.
- Drizzle generous amounts of olive oil all over the surface. Make indentations on the dough using your knuckles and spread chopped basil, garlic and olives evenly. Sprinkle with salt and paprika. Cover with cling film and allow it to rest for another 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Bake the bread in the oven for 20-25 minutes until crisp and brown. Enjoy warm.
After a fairly-successful first-attempt, I plan to make this often; being part of this bread-loving family that we are. If you feel good about the recipe, you should try it too. Although, I must warn you: the smell of freshly baked bread can be addictive, to say the least!