There's nothing quite as satisfying as making, baking and eating your own bread. For me it gives a great sense of wholesomeness and warmth to a home. That's definitely what is needed right now with snowmageddon going on outside. Thankfully there is no fear of our dry food supplies running out which means I've been baking like a madwoman!
The last time I made this yummy foccacia bread was in the summer when we had some lovely friends over from London to stay. The kids, Issy and Lucas, loved squishing the dough and getting their hands messy with the tomato topping. We took it to the park as part of a picnic (the other 'part' being fizz to wash it down, non-alcoholic for the kids of course!). It's surreal to look at such summery snaps now when the current weather couldn't be more opposite!
SEMI-SUNDRIED TOMATO & ROSEMARY FOCCACIA
This is based on a recipe from ‘Homechef’ by Neven Maguire
Makes 1 loaf
7 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling and drizzling
1 tsp fast-action yeast
450g (1lb) strong plain white flour, plus extra for dusting
1 ¼ tsp sea salt
1 jar semi-sundried tomatoes, drained
leaves from 1 fresh rosemary sprig
Maldon sea salt, for sprinkling
Oil a 28 x 18 x 4cm (11 x 7 x 1 ½ in) baking tin and line with non-sick parchment paper.
Mix the yeast, flour and ¼ teaspoon of salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in 225ml (8fl oz) of tepid water and 5 tablespoons of the olive oil. Mix well to form a soft dough then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Place in an oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place (I always use the airing cupboard!) for about 1 hour or until doubled in size. Knock the dough back by punching lightly to knock out air bubbles.
Then turn it out on to a lightly floured surface again and knead for another 2-3 minutes. Roll out to a large rectangle that is about 1cm (½ in) in thickness and place in the prepared tin.
Stud with the semi-sundried tomatoes and sprinkle the rosemary sprigs and remaining salt over.
Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise again for about 30 minutes until soft and pillowy. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220C (425F), Gas mark 7.
Drizzle again with olive oil and bake for about 30 minutes until cooked through and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and drizzle with olive oil to keep the crust softened. Cut or tear into chunks and enjoy!