Sun-dried Tomato & Rosemary Focaccia

Remember I mentioned that I had a whole bunch of ingredients in my cupboards that needed to be used up? Well, slowly but surely – I’m getting through them. This past Tuesday was Buddha’s birthday, so I decided to tackle some white bread flour that’s been taking up space. I’d bought a bunch of it when I was trying to make sourdough (that didn’t go so well, but maybe I’ll give it another shot after the summer).

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Anyway, given the mid-week holiday, I decided to make two bread recipes. This is just the first one. The second one will be coming your way soon enough, especially as it was voted to be put on the blog through an Instagram poll. However, this focaccia recipe is an old favourite that I’ve made a couple of times over the years.

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It’s soft in the middle and ever so slightly crunchy on the outside. Salty, aromatic and delicious.

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Yes, it takes a bit of time, as you need to give the dough time to rise and then prove, but it’s completely worth it. Luckily for me, I also have a new food processor that has a kneading tool – makes the job so much easier (and tidier too).

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I also have to admit that I would gladly have sat and ate the entire loaf of bread if I’d been left to do so. However, knowing that I would have done that, I set about handing it out to various friends and colleagues. I have to admit, seeing their faces (or reading their messages) about the bread makes me smile. It’s one of the reasons I love cooking and baking, to see people enjoy the food that I’ve made. It might be a bit selfish, but who doesn’t like it when someone truly enjoys something you’ve made with your own two hands.

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A great thing about focaccia is it tastes great on its own, as well as dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar (my favourite thing to eat most bread with). You can also play around with flavours. Rosemary is always a good herb option, as it has a lot of depth, but garlic and caramelised onions would work too. The sun-dried tomatoes do go a little bit crispy in the oven, but this doesn’t change the flavour.

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I’ve adapted this recipe from a book called The Big Book of Baking, which you can find here.

Are the pictures make you hungry yet? There’s just something about seeing dough double in size, form a shape, and then become this delicious food to munch on. I have no idea why bread has that affect on me, but it does!

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I’ve still got a whole bag of bread flour in the cupboard, so here’s to many more bread recipes to come in the next two months.

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Ingredients

500 grams strong white bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp easy-blend dried yeast
3 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, plus extra sprigs for garnish
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
300 ml lukewarm water
10 sun-dried tomato halves
1 tsp coarse sea salt

  1. Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl. Stir in the yeast and chopped rosemary.
  2. Make a well in the centre and pour in 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix quickly with a wooden spoon. Gradually stir in the water, but do not over mix.*
  3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes. The dough will be quite wet, but do not add any more flour.*
  4. Brush a large bowl with oil (or spray it with cooking spray). Shape the dough into a ball, place it in the bowl and cover it with a damp tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knock it back with your fists, then knead for one minute.
  6. Brush a baking tray with oil, then put the dough into the tray and press it out into an even layer. Cover the baking tray with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1 hour.
  7. Preheat the oven to 240°C. Cut the tomato halves in half. Whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil with a little water, in a bowl.
  8. Dip your fingers into the oil mixture and press them into the bread to make dimples all over the loaf. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  9. Press the tomatoes into some of the dimples, and drizzle with the remaining oil mixture. Sprinkle with rosemary sprigs.
  10. Turn the oven down to 220°C and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  11. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, and enjoy while still warm.

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*Steps 1 and 2 can be completed in a food processor with a kneading tool, if you have one.

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