Rosemary & Red Onion Focaccia.

Bread has received the unfair reputation of being difficult to make; a title unduly shared with risottos, soufflés and pastry. I have yet to meet someone who would agree with this once they have started baking for themselves. So how do you get started? I simply recommend entering into bread preparation with sheer abandon! The more you work with yeast, the more confidence gained.

500g of ‘00’ or strong white flour
15g sachet of dried yeast
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of caster sugar
350ml of lukewarm water
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 red onions, finely sliced
A handful of fresh rosemary
Extra olive oil and sea salt for topping.

Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a jug, mix the yeast and water. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid plus two tablespoons of olive oil. Using your fingers mix together until combined into a slightly wet, workable dough. Lightly flour your work surface and tip out the dough. Knead for at least ten minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place (in the kitchen near the oven or in the hot press) for one hour to allow the dough to double in size. Meanwhile, gently fry the onions in a little olive oil for five minutes until soft and set aside to cool. When the dough has risen, return to the work surface and knead for a couple of minutes to knock the air out. Using a little olive oil, lightly grease a baking tin (approx 25×35cm). Stretch and spread the dough into the tin and leave to prove (rise) for another twenty minutes.
Spread the cooked onions over the dough and press your fingers all over the dough to make dimples. Sprinkle on the rosemary and a little sea salt and drizzle with olive oil. Place in a preheated oven at 200ºc and bake for half an hour or until golden brown. Allow to cool before serving.

Recipe variation.

Let your imagination take over when making focaccia. Try adding sage or thyme into the dough before baking. Other good focaccia toppings include feta cheese and black olives, brie and bacon lardons, roast garlic, sun blused tomatoes, anchovies, roast peppers, courgettes, parmesan or mozzarella cheese.

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