Onion and Rosemary Focaccia
Westfield Shopping Centre (Shepherd’s Bush) public toilets have dangerous doors. It swung right into my finger and now the joint is looking blue, swollen and very angry. On my good right hand too!
Flipping through my Giorgio Locatelli Made in Italy cookbook I got inspired to bake my own focaccia. The recipe described it as a “foolproof focaccia, ready to bake in over an hour”. It took me three. With one finger less my efficiency was halved. Plus kneading was a painful challenge.
I did find it wierd that the metric used to measure liquids was in grams. I called up Locanda Locatelli’s main office to clarify that I actually had to weigh the liquids and the guy seemed mildly amused. I wasn’t. Washing out and drying the scales between weighing solids and liquids was extra annoying due to lame finger.
As I’d never baked before I had no idea what to expect. What is doughy texture? Salamoia? And the emulsification of salamoia? Dried versus fresh yeast?
Giorgio’s Recipe (and where I’ve tweaked, cheated, triumphed and thwarted)
500g strong white bread flour
15g fresh yeast (I used 14g Hovis fast acting yeast. seems to work a treat)
225g water at 20 degrees (ie room temp)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
10g salt (I used lo-salt, which works fine but I may try sea salt next time round)
For the salamoia (what does this mean?!):
65g water at 20 degrees (room temp again)
65g extra-virgin olive oil
25g salt (This was way too much salt in my opinion, even in the case of lo-salt. My friend loves his salt and said it was fine but I felt it was overboard. I think 15g is a fair acceptable amount)
For the topping:
small handful of rosemary sprigs or handful of good pitted olives (I am not a fan of olives. Instead I pushed thin slices of onions mixed with a couple of pinches of sugar into the dough. Once baked it became caramelise-y and was wonderful on the focaccia. Almost forgave the ton of salt used to season earlier)
To make the salamoia, whisk all the ingredients together until they emulsify. The book says it should turn into a light green colour. Mine was bright canary yellow. This turned out to be fine. A possible explanation for the “light green” suggestion could be due to the colour of the extra virgin olive oil used.
Preheat oven to 220C (200C fan-oven). In a bowl mix together all the ingredients (except the topping) until they form a dough. I’ve had to add an extra dash of oil and water to get the consistency to be more dough-ey. Rub the surface with some oil and leave to rest for 10 minutes, covered with a damp cloth.
Oil a large baking tray and transfer the dough to it, then rub the surface with a little more oil. Leave for another 10 minutes.
Using a rolling pin and starting from the centre, roll upwards very lightly, once only, to the top of the dough. Use a light touch (my light touch was so light that I needed to go over a couple of times. Note to self: Must be a bit braver next time) so as not to break the bubbles that have developed in the dough. Go back to the centre and this time roll down to the bottom of the dough, once only. Leave for 20 minutes during which time the dough will double in size.
With your fingertips make deep dimples in the dough, taking care not to go all the way through. Whisk the salamoia, then pour it over the surface and into all of the holes. Leave for 20 minutes more.
Either press the rosemary into the dough or push the olives (or sugary onions) into the holes. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden, then let cool on a wire rack.
Slice up and serve with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.