I got up early yesterday to make bread and other assorted treats for a very civilised hen party. It was supposed to be a picnic, but the weather was suitably British so it ended up being an indoor affair. Nevertheless, it was a fabulous day in honour of a fabulous lady!
I was inspired to make this Focaccia by the 6am sunshine, and also the tragic, forgotten peaches in my fruit bowl whispering “please don’t let us go to waste”.
Focaccia is an Italian flatbread thought to have originated in Ancient Rome. It’s name comes from the Latin “Panis Focacius” which basically means “bread from the hearth”. In Roman times, variations of this bread would have been on every table, at every meal.
- 500g strong white flour
- 10g fine salt
- 20g fresh yeast
- 300g water
- 100g olive oil
- Fresh rosemary
- 3 peaches
- Sea salt flakes
- Balsamic Vinegar
- In a large bowl, place your flour and make a well in the centre.
- Dissolve the yeast into the water, and start pouring into the flour, a little at a time, mixing as you go.
- When all of the water has been added, add the fine salt and half of the oil.
- Turn out onto a work surface and knead for 5 minutes. This dough will be very sticky but don’t panic! It’s meant to be that way. I find a dough scraper handy, to help scoop the dough off my work top.
- When you’re done kneading, plonk the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and kick back for 2 hours while the magic happens.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, line a baking tray with parchment and tip the dough out onto the tray. Use the dough scraper so that it comes out cleanly, without disturbing the strands of gluten it’s been busy forming.
- Use your hands to shape the dough into a large rectangle, approximately 2 cm thick.
- Cover the dough and leave it for 1 hour to rise.
- When the hour is nearly up, preheat your oven to 220 degrees C/gas mark 7. Wash your rosemary and prepare your peaches in whichever way you think looks nicest.
- Place the peach slices on top of the Focaccia. I’ve put mine on at a slight angle, so that they are poking into the Focaccia, rather than just sitting on the top. Next put on the rosemary, either as little sprigs pointing upwards, or just a scattering of leaves.
- Sprinkle the whole thing with sea salt flakes, drizzle with olive and oil and finish with a good drizzle of thick balsamic vinegar.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning half way through to ensure an even colouring. Your Focaccia is done when it is a nice golden colour.