I don’t know about you, but one of the simplest pleasures in life, to me, is baking bread. I may not be the best, but there’s some satisfaction in making a loaf from scratch, watching it rise and the making the first slice of the crust.
Carbs are wonderful. As is bread. Despite what any fad diet will say, you NEED carbohydrates. In a normal, metabolically healthy being, carbohydrates are the main source of energy. Carbs don’t cause weight gain, but the amount and types of carbs you consume. So bread? Bread should be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. There’s so many different types and it is such a versatile ingredient. Bread is also widely available and accessible – even the poorest of communities can eat and get nutrients from bread. Local shops, major supermarkets. It’s sold everywhere. Even ducks can’t get enough.
Focaccia bread is an Italian type of flatbread that is often packed with herbs, spices and fruit to make flavours pop and your taste buds tingle. It’s pretty hard to get wrong, which is fab especially when starting out breadmaking, as it can be sometimes a learning curve getting timings right (well, it was for me!). This is my take on a focaccia bread with some of my faaaave ingredients: rosemary and black olives. So want to know more? Keep reading and I’ll show you how!
What You Will Need
• 500g strong white flour
• 7 x 2g fast action yeast
• 1tsp light brown sugar
• 1tbsp olive oil
• 300ml lukewarm water
• Pinch of salt
• 16 black olives, pitted and halved
• 2 sprigs of rosemary
Shall We Get Started?
Before we get started with any actual bread making, we need to make a yeasty mix! I like to do this rather then just adding yeast and water to the flour immediately as it gives a better rise and bubblier finish (in my opinion).
I use Allison Easy Bake Yeast which I purchased from Tesco and have to weigh out myself, but you can get pre-weighed sachets if you find that more convenient.
Weigh out your yeast (if you need to) into a heatproof, glass cup.
Add the light brown sugar… this “feeds” the yeast and makes it come alive!
Add the lukewarm water, stir, then leave to rest for 10 minutes until the foam on top doubles.
Don’t stir during the “feeding” process.
Right, now it’s time for the dry ingredients. Weigh the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a small dent in the flour mix (a hole in the middle).
Whilst you’re waiting for the yeast to activate, prepare your olives and rosemary (if not prepared already).
Just as the yeast is ready, pour the olive oil into the little dent. Like this!
And now the yeast should look something like this! Add it to the dry mix and begin to knead in the bowl.
It may appear unworkable at first (it’s often very sticky) but keep going and try not to add any ingredients. It will come together! Knead for 10 minutes or until a soft shiny ball is formed. Knead out of the bowl if you wanna properly get your elbow work in.
Once the dough is ready, knead in HALF of the black olives. Remove from the bowl if you haven’t done so already.
Grease your mixing bowl (I used some more olive oil). Pop the dough mix into the bowl and cover well with cling film.
Place in a warm place and leave to rise for 40 minutes. I put my oven on a very low heat and left the door slightly ajar as it is very cold in England at the moment, but in summer, a hot window spot will be perfect.
After 40 minutes, your dough should have doubled in size. Yay! Now time to knock it back. (What??? I know, but trust me, it’s all about working the gluten to give it that airy, bubbling bread texture).
Pour the dough on to a sheet of greaseproof paper (or a well floured baking tray).
Top with a sprinkle of flour and roll out until it’s about an inch thick.
Produce some ‘finger dents’ to give that iconic focaccia look.
Then top with the remaining olives and rosemary. Looks delicious already! Before you bake it, leave to rise for a further 20 minutes until it’s doubled in size again (ideally covering with cling film).
And bake! 220c / Gas mark 8 for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden and crispy. Leave to cool before serving.
Bread, olive oil, balsamic drizzle and mixed olives is an amazing snack / starter!
Or simply use for soups, sandwiches and as a side for dishes.
Tag your pics using #emmasfoodstories so I can see your bakes and creations. Happy bread making!
Emma is a pre-registration Dietitian and Registered Associate Nutritionist based in Cheshire, England. Emma works in community healthcare and writes freelance alongside her work: topics including Dietetic life, nutrition, mental health and lifestyle. Emma also writes and photographs recipes for the platform, as well as being the author of the ‘Mummy and Me’ series for SR Nutrition. Emma’s Food Stories is PR friendly brand.