Bread, who doesn’t love bread? And fresh bread too: is there anything quite like the smell of fresh, warm bread wafting through a street, or a house? It says home, it says comfort. While freshly baked bread straight from the oven may not have been a part of all our childhoods, it surely fills everyone with a sense of glowing nostalgia.
Now that we are all hungry for bread, why not make some? You may have experienced the joy of focaccia at some point in your life. This Italian bread is wonderfully simple to make and delicious to eat. Perfect for lunch, for an afternoon snack, eaten with dinner or for when you are feeling just a little peckish at 11pm at night.
Preparation time: 1½ hours
Cooking time: 15mins
3 cups plain flour
2 tsps of salt
1 ¼ cups of luke-warm water
1 tsp of granulated sugar
3 tbsps of olive oil
1 packet (2 tsps) of dried yeast
1 clove of garlic
8 cherry tomatoes
1 tsp of dried thyme
1 bunch of basil leaves
In a medium-size bowl, mix together the water, yeast, sugar and two tablespoons of the olive oil. Leave for two minutes in a warm, dry place, or until the mixture begins to froth.
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and stir in 1 teaspoon of the salt. Make a well in the middle and slowly pour in the liquid, mixing together with a wooden spoon until a dough begins to form. Turn the dough out onto a clean, floured surface and knead for five minutes until it becomes a smooth ball shape.
Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough inside, cover with a damp tea-towel and leave in a warm dry place to rise. Leave for 45 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and lightly oil a large baking pan. Punch the dough with your fist to let out the air before emptying it out on to a lightly floured surface. Knead for approximately 2 minutes, until the dough has an elastic quality. Press out flat into the oiled pan, but leaving a slight space around the edges. Place a damp tea-towel over the top and leave to rise for 20 minutes in a cool dry place.
Crush the garlic and mix it in a small bowl with the remaining olive oil and the thyme. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Using your finger, make a few impressions in the dough, touching down as far as the bottom of the pan. Press the cherry tomatoes into the holes. Then, using a pastry brush, spread the olive oil mixture over the dough. Arrange the basil leaves on top.
Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until the dough develops a golden colour. Leave on a wire rack to cool.
[Key: Tbsp=tablespoon, tsp=teaspoon]