It’s summer, or at least that’s what the calendar is telling me. Outside it’s cold, grey and miserable, but inside I want the sun to shine. So what better way than making summery food to get in the mood?
Two weeks ago at Food Blogger Connect, the lovely Giulia of Juls Kitchen gave everyone a little present from her home – a jar of a Mediterranean salt mix (with rosemary, sage, garlic and black pepper), which she labelled Tuscany in a jar.
Great stuff, I thought, and got brainstorming on what to make with it. Ratatouille? Flavoured polenta? Sprinkle some on salads? I was lost in thoughts, with my nose sticking in the spice jar, when R. came into the kitchen and asked what I was sniffing. ‘I’m indulging in the smell of summer, and trying to decide what to cook with it.” She took the jar from me, gave it a critical nosing, and returned it to me with a big smile on her face and just said ‘Focaccia’.
That’s how this lovely bread came about. I really like Focaccia, but I don’t make it often enough. My first Focaccia recipe was given to me by our lovely Italian neighbour Rosalie. I did quite a bit of babysitting for her children, and one day she had made this wonderful Focaccia for us lot for dinner. It was amazing! I’ll have to dig that recipe out of my old food files and make it again. For the while being, this new recipe will do. I mixed a bit of wholemeal flour into the batter, since I ran out of strong white flour, and I was surprised by what a nice touch this gave the Focaccia.
So, thank you Juls for this lovely spice mix. If you want to make it yourself, check out Jul’s recipe.
Right, I’m off to Berlin for the weekend, so fingers crossed the sun will shine and I can browse some markets and snap some nice food photos for you all. ★
Olive Rosemary Focaccia
Makes 2 loaves
450g strong white flour
75g strong wholemeal flour (if you don’t have any at hand just use white)
7g dried yeast
1 tbsp salt
300ml lukewarm water
5 tbsp olive oil (plus some for greasing the surface before baking)
1 jar of black olives
a few stalks of fresh rosemary (or dried)
Mediterranean salt mix for sprinkling (optional)
Mix the dried yeast into 100ml of lukewarm water and let it rest for about 5 mins to activate the yeast.
Combine the flour and salt in a big bowl. Pour the yeast mixture over and start kneading. (I started off with an electric mixer with dough hooks, but once the mix resembles more and more a dough I find it really hard to work with this and prefer to use my hands to knead.) Gradually add 200ml of lukewarm water and 5 tbsp of olive oil. Knead for a good 5 minutes until the dough is smooth, supple and elastic.
Form into a ball. Wash the bowl you just used, try it and pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into it. Roll the dough ball in the oil so the whole surface is covered. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and place somewhere warm for 1 + 1/2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down. You literally punch into it and watch it collapse. Knead it again for a couple of minutes. Form into a ball and let it rest in the kitchen for 10 minutes, covered with the damp towel.
Divide the dough in 2 and place each part on one oiled baking tray. Shape the dough into an oval by pressing it down and pulling it into shape. Cover the dough ovals with a damp tea towel (again? Last time I promise) and let it go puffy for 25 minutes.
Now turn your oven on while the dough is rising, 200° C.
Once the dough has risen, oil its entire surface with olive oil. Take a handful of olives and stick them in the dough, making a nice pattern or just randomly. Break some rosemary stalks off and stick them into the dough or just scatter on top. In the end, scatter some Mediterranean salt mix (or plain salt) over the Focaccia.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the Focaccia is nicely golden. If you’re not sure it’s done you can use the good old method of sticking a little wooden stick in and if it comes out without any dough attached to it, you’re done!