Stephen Harris shares his recipe for sumptuously fresh focaccia
“It may seem strange that we make focaccia in a restaurant that highlights English food, but this bread is on the menu for sentimental reasons. Just before opening The Sportsman I visited The Walnut Tree restaurant in Wales.
I was impressed by many things, but the bread board knocked me out: it has a cheese bread, black bread and this focaccia.”
Makes 1 loaf
• 20 g/ ¾ oz fresh yeast
• 700 g/1 lb 9 oz (5 ½ cups) bread flower
• 20 g/¾ oz (1 tablespoon) sea salt
• 15 g/½ oz (1 tablespoon) caster (superfine) sugar
• olive oil
• 1 red onion, thinly sliced
• 2 stalks rosemary, picked into small sprigs
1 Crumble the fresh yeast into a bowl and pour over 500 ml/17 fl oz (generous 2 cups) warm water. Leave for 30 minutes to give the yeast time to activate.
2 Meanwhile, put the flour, salt and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a bread hook. If kneading by hand, combine in a large mixing bowl. With the mixer on a medium setting, add the year and water mixture to the dough and knead for around 5 minutes. The dough should be shiny and spring back when pressed with a finger; this means the glutens are in line. Leave the dough in the mixing bowl and allow to rise for an hour.
3 While the dough is rising, take a deep baking tin, around 30 x 24 cm/12 x 9 ½ inches and oil it very generously.
4 Knock the air out of the dough and turn out onto a floured work counter. Knead the dough for around 5 minutes to get it back to the shiny stage.
5 Swirl the oil in the pan to make sure all the inside surfaces are well-oiled. Put the dough into the pan and press into the sides and corners. Turn it over so that it is completely coated with oil. Spread the onion slices over the surface and tuck in the rosemary sprigs, distributing them evenly.
6 Leave for 2 hours, loosely covered with a tea towel, until the dough has risen almost to the top of the tin. Preheat the oven to 250C/500F.
7 Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the focaccia is golden brown. In the restaurant we turn it upside down in the pan and bake for another 10 minutes to ensure it is evenly browned all over, but this is cosmetic rather than essential.
8 Turn out the focaccia onto a wire rack and leave for at least an hour before slicing.
Recipe courtesy of Stephen Harris, extracted from The Sportsman.