I'm quite used to making fresh bread here at The Madhouse with my bread machine but there's something extremely satisfying about making bread totally from scratch, kneading it, letting it rise then baking it in the oven. I decided to try making focaccia today for the first time ever, to sample another of the Marina Colonna infused olive oils (that I told you about here). I opted for the Bergamot infused oil and paired it with thyme and sea salt.
Thyme, Sea Salt & Bergamot Focaccia
500g strong white bread flour
2 tsp table salt
1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
80ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling (I used 55ml of bergamot-infused olive oil and topped up with regular extra virgin olive oïl)
250ml warm water
2 tbsp dried thyme
a large pinch of sea salt
Put the flour into a large bowl, add the salt, thyme and yeast, then add the olive oil, plus enough warm water to make a soft but not sticky dough.
Knead the dough for about 10 minutes by hand on a lightly floured work surface until springy and stretchy. Put back in the bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for about an hour. (Or two, because at this point we headed off to the park !)
Put the dough on an oiled baking tray and flatten it into an oval shape, about 30 x 20cm. Use a floured index finger to make regular indentations all over about 4cm apart. (Pierre came into the kitchen at this point and made me laugh by saying, in a totally shocked voice, "Mummmyyy, you're not allowed to poke your fingers in the bread!" (If you have fresh rosemary available, you can push sprigs into the holes too for extra flavour.)
Place in the top third of the oven. Bake for about 25–30 minutes, or until the bread is well risen, pale golden-brown and feels hollow when tapped underneath.
Remove from the oven, drizzle with a little extra olive oil, sprinkle a large pinch of sea salt over the top and leave to cool on the baking tray.
As you can see, everybody kept pinching bits before it had even gone cold ! This is the perfect share and tear bread for taking on picnics with no need for knives or for putting on the table for everyone to rip chunks out of.
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