With the weather heating up and it being Heritage (read: BRAAI) month, us South Africans are all getting that wonderful, delirious, warm-summer-air, late-nights-outside-by-the-fire, weekends-away-at-the-sea kinda feeling. At the centre of this most delicious summer feeling is BRAAING – chops, steak, wors, chicken flatties, whole fish, crayfish, potjies, braaibroodjies - anything cooked on the fire and all the yummy sides we eat with it all!
So, bread. A braai (or any meal for that matter) is not complete without bread. That incredible feels-like-home smell, the crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-as-clouds-on the inside texture, the garlicky-cheesy-oniony-herby-I-can’t-stop-eating-this-flavour – you get where I’m going. Let’s bake FOCACCIA. Two of them. Different toppings - one with beautiful red tomato, fresh rosemary & lashings of garlic and the other with crispy sage, onions and a mound of salty Parmesan. Super easy and completely worth that tiiiny bit of home-baked effort.
Yield: 2 medium sized focaccia
Preparation time: minutes
Cooking time: +- 30-40 minutes
4 Cups cake flour
10g instant yeast
2 Tbs salt
2 Tbs sugar
400ml tepid water
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
2-3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 plum tomato, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
Olive oil – for when the focaccia comes out of the oven
A few sprigs of fresh sage
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
60ml finely grated Parmesan
1 small onion, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
Olive oil - for when the focaccia comes out of the oven
- Sift all your dry ingredients into the bowl of your mixer (or mixing bowl if making by hand).
- Using the paddle attachment or k-beater (or a spatula), mix these ingredients until thoroughly combined.
- Slowly add water, just enough that the dough comes together and cleans the bowl. Change to your dough hook.
- Knead your dough on medium speed (or by hand) for 5 minutes – you will see that the dough becomes less wet and smoother.
- After 5 minutes add the remainder of your water and knead for another 5 minutes.
- Add your 2 Tbs of olive oil and knead for another 10 minutes.
- At this point you should have a soft, non-sticky, smooth dough. If not yet there, knead for a few more minutes until you’re happy with the feel and texture.
- Remove from the bowl of the mixer and place into a lightly oiled bowl, covered with cling film or a damp tea towel, in a warm, draught free spot to rise until doubled in size.
- Preheat your oven to 200’C.
- Knock back your dough and divide into two.
- Shape both into medium sized ovals and use your fingers to make light indentations all over.
- Top with the respective toppings, distributing them evenly over the breads and making sure they are properly pressed down. Season with lots of flaky salt.
- Leave to rise again in a warm, draught free place for about 20 minutes until nicely risen.
- Pop into your oven and bake until golden, risen and hollow sounding when tapped underneath - around 30-40 minutes.
- If the bread is getting too dark before it’s done baking, turn down your oven to 180’C or even 160’C if necessary to bake through.
- Remove from the oven and pour (quite liberally) lovely lashings of olive oil all over both your focaccias – don’t worry, the bread soaks it in without becoming soggy. You want them to be glossy, juicy and soft!
- Eat while still warm or pop them back into the oven just before serving later.
- Pop the leftovers into an airtight container and eat within a few days. These breads also freeze really well.