I love bread! Leaving the carb talk aside, it is always satisfying to make your own bread and consume it with glee 🙂 It is my dream to whip up fancy artisan or rustic Italian breads…and knowing me, anybody can say I would give priority to the later 🙂 Breads come in many shapes and sizes – loaves, baguettes, round ones, cheese breads, veggie breads, sweet breads… I could go on and on! The day I understood that the world of breads was not just limited to our good ole “Modern Bread” was the day my dad for home these awesome, soft melt in your mouth loaves from the newly opened “Hot Breads” store – then it was Pizza Hut that introduced me to what they call garlic bread and then when I started working and travelling I discovered flat breads, pita breads, wraps and what not! The list is endless…..
Knowing my love for salads, my mom had given me an entire jar full of Del Monte green olives recently which were waiting their turn to transform into something yummy in the fridge and the contest from IndiBlogger and Del Monte meant I knew what I should be doing – some kind of bread with olives!!
Being an amateur with regards to playing with bread recipes and yeast, I was raring to make some Focaccia bread. Per wiki “Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread,which may be topped with herbs or other ingredients. It is similar in style and texture to pizza, but not considered to be the same“. I have seen focaccia versions topped with vegetables, cheese, herbs, garlic and simple versions to dunk in soups, eat with salads and more. Considering my first attempt at making this bread about a year ago was a total flop, I wanted to do it right again and the fact that I had a brand new packet of yeast sitting on the shelf for few months now and that my recent bread making adventures had been successful gave me some confidence to try this out this week-end.
I checked out a few recipes and not being entirely satisfied I made up my own list of ingredients that were going to make up my focaccia 🙂 As always, I have tried making my recipe healthier by eliminating part of the processed white flour which is a staple in most breads and adding some more pizzaz to the entire bread mix. Enjoy this hearty bread as is or dunk them in soup, spread some hummus or use as an accompaniment with salad! We did all of them and it was fun!!
And I am submitting all my hard work to “The Del Monte Blogger Recipe Carnival” organized by IndiBlogger and Del Monte. Thanks guys I had a whale of a time making, eating and serving this.
Great ingredients make great food …Here goes:
What you need:
- 3 cups flour – I used a mix of 1.5 cups of maida and 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour (Ashirwad atta to be precise)
- 1/4 – 1/2 C of Del Monte green olives
- 2 tbsp active dry yeast – Blue bird is the brand I used
- 1/2 cup of warm water to activate the yeast – Please note that the water should not be hot, but warm and not luke warm or cold. In other words, you should be able to put your finger in it and take it out comfortably.
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 c warm water to mix the dough – you may require another 1/4 to 1/2 cup depending upon the consistency of the dough
- 2 tsp salt
- 1.5 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp of crushed rosemary – I used the dry herbs we get off the shelves 1 pack of oregano seasoning – I used it from our last take out at pizza corner 🙂 If you don’t have this no worries, just use 1 tsp of crushed oregano or not even use these herbs!
- 1/4 Del Monte Olive oil or a little less depending on you dough
- Some additional wheat flour for dusting
Getting it done
- Add the honey, yeast and 1 tbsp olive oil to warm water and mix well until the yeast dissolved. Now I know most recipes use sugar to activate the yeast, but I prefer honey. Honey is to yeast as water is to a fish! The yeast just always seems to magically activate when it meets honey 🙂
- When the yeast is busy getting active, run the white flour through a sieve and transfer to a mixing bowl
- Next the wheat flour – Run the wheat flour through a mixer to make the flour even finer and then run it through a sieve and add it to its contemporary white flour
- Add the salt, crushed rosemary, garlic powder and oregano seasoning to the dough and mix well
- Drain the olives from the brine, give them a rough chop and wash them well to remove any extra saltiness. Now this is something for me and my fam as we don’t like anything that too salty. Green olives are naturally a bit salty and using them as is from the bottle could turn the bread more salty. Once I washed the olives I lay them of kitchen tissue to dry and remove any excess moisture
- Now check what your yeast has been upto – assuming that you have been working on prepping your dough for at least 15-20 minutes, by now the yeast should have bubbled up pretty
- Make a well in the middle of your dough and slowly add the bubbly, I mean the yeast and start incorporating in the dough. Add the yeast water completely and add more warm water slowly while mixing the dough. The dough will be a sticky mess in your hand.
Just add some olive oil and keep mixing slowly and steadily until all the flour is incorporated well – your dough may look like it got a case of the goose pimples, but no worries, it will be fine 🙂
Now, grease the rest of the bowl well, move the sticky dough to the center and cover the bowl (I used a plate – I didn’t bother myself with plastic cling wraps etc.,) and keep the dough in a warm place (this was next to the stove for me, plus Chennai is always warm, humid and everything hot so I lucked out) and let it rest.
Check in on it after about 20 minutes By now the dough would have slowly started expanding; this is what professional bakers refer to as doubling, plus they also use tall containers to measure the doubling and what not! Since I didn’t have any tall containers I just used my mixing bowl which was large enough to handle the expansion 🙂
- Now, clean your countertop, add some flour (wheat flour works) spread it a bit and plop the sticky dough and knead it gently. Add more flour/oil if required and knead for about 10 minutes (yeah! give those arms a work out) until the dough resembles a smooth ball.
- Now be very pleased with yourself and transfer the dough back into the bowl and move it to a warm place and let it do its thing. Do not disturb it for about 4-5 hours – taking a peek every now and then is ok 🙂
- When time is up, pre-heat your oven at about 250 degree C for about 15 minutes Cover a flat baking tray with some foil and grease the foil with some olive oil – use butter if that is what your heart desires 🙂
- Now, take the dough from the bowl and roll gently again to transform it to a pretty ball. Spread the chopped olives on top – admire your handy work and start working them into the dough. What this means is knead them slowly into the dough until you have no more olives sticking out. By now the oven would almost be ready.
- Take a rolling-pin and gently roll out the dough to an oval shape and gently lift it and move it to the baking tray Now, stretch it until it completely covers the tray.
- With your fingers, make some gentle craters over the dough and drizzle some olive oil over the tray Pop in the tray into the oven and watch the focaccia bread rise as you bake for about 15-20 minutes.
It is a treat to watch the bread rise as its baking and smell which wafts in the kitchen is something one must experience. Please note that the baking time may vary with the type of oven you have and the electricity situation in your city! 15 minutes into the baking process, test the bread with a skewer stick or a knife – just stick the testing equipment of your choice into different parts of the bread and check if it is cooked! If the tester doesn’t come out clean, you should bake for a few minutes more..
When the bread is done baking, remove from the oven cut some hearty chunks and enjoy them as is or dunk them in soup, spread some hummus or use as an accompaniment with salad! I did all of them and it was fun!!