Foccacia

A recipe for the delicious Italian-style bread foccacia that is a healthy choice for Dairy Free, Diabetic and Vegan diets.



Making foccacia is very similar to making a regular loaf; however, the resulting moisture and texture is different because of the higher oil content. For this reason, it is not coded as suitable for LC, low calorie, or LF, low fat diets.

The olive oil is a defining feature of foccacia, giving it its distinctive flavour. I have added oil to the dough; but, in keeping with my practice of healthy cooking, I recommend oil be used sparingly in the final stage before baking. Here, I brush oil on the loaf to provide shine and to bind the herbs to the dough, rather than pouring on ‘lashings’ of oil as you may have seen if you watch TV cooking shows. By understanding the high oil content of this bread, you can balance your diet by including less oil in other parts of the meal, eg do not spread this bread with butter or, as is often done, dip it in olive oil.

Another characteristic feature of focaccia is the addition of herbs or flavourings on top of the loaf, which include rosemary, dried herbs, olives, sundried tomatoes, anchovy, tapenade, dried herbs or extra salt. Use whatever flavourings are available to compliment the meal you will be eating this bread with.

Diets for which Foccacia is suitable:

Dairy Free, Diabetic, Nut Free, Vegan and Vegetarian.

Ingredients

Preparation: 15 + 10 mins (2 hrs till baking) | Cooking: 15 mins | Serves: 4+

7 gm (2 tsp) dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
120 ml (1/2 cup) warm water
250 gm (1 3/4 cups) strong white flour
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil

rosemary, onion, olives etc (optional)

Method

ADD yeast and sugar to 120 ml of warm (tepid) water. (The yeast will start to bubble after about 10 minutes, when you can proceed.)
SIFT flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
ADD 3 tbsp oil and the activated yeast mix to the flour.
FORM a dough, adding more warm water if required.
OIL the board. (Using oil on the board, rather than flour, ensures the bread will not become too dry.)
KNEAD the dough on the board for about 10 minutes until it develops a shine.
RETURN the dough to the mixing bowl and cover.
REST the dough until it doubles in size, approximately 60 mins in warm conditions.
GREASE the tin or tray with a little olive oil.
KNEAD the dough again, removing the air bubbles, and roll into a shape approximately the size of your tin, 19 x 32 cm/8 x 12 inches. (Alternatively, cut the dough in four equal-sized pieces, roll into circular shapes, 12 cm/ 5 inches, and place on an oiled tray.)
PLACE the dough in the tin, shaping it so it fills the corners. (Use wet fingers if the dough is sticky.)
COVER and rest the dough for 30-60 minutes. (It does not double like the first rising, as this bread is denser in texture.)
PREHEAT oven to 200 C/425 F/Gas 7.
CREATE dimples in the dough by pushing your finger into the central area.
BRUSH the dough with the remaining olive oil.
TOP with flavourings.
BAKE for 15-20 minutes until lightly coloured. (Do not over–bake – this bread dries quickly.)
COOL for 10 mins on the tin then move onto a rack.

Serve

– Make sandwiches.
– Suitable for any meal.

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