Saturday, 11 April 2015

Basic focaccia (Emmanuel Hadjiandreou's recipe)

Basic focaccia (Emmanuel Hadjiandreou's recipe)

Do you know somebody who doesn't like focaccia? I don't. And I have even seen many people avidly eating not so good versions of focaccia...
Because focaccia is one of those amazing creation of Italian cuisine in front of which it is impossible to say "no, thanks", sometimes even if it's not the best.
Not only focaccia is delicious and comforting, but it is incredibly versatile.
It's a perfect snack on its own at any time of the day and in almost all situations (at work, at school, on the beach, for a picnic) but it goes also well as a substitute for bread in any type of sandwich.
Can be served in a buffet or in a more formal, seated dinner.
It's the simplest yet ideal amuse buche, but it is also the perfect addition to any bread basket.
And it may be a tasty impromptu dinner when there is an empty fridge and no willing to shop and cook.

Not to talk about the countless ways a focaccia can be filled. Considering that it is delicious plain, any addition can only make it tastier.
Fantasy and personal taste are the inspiration source when it comes to fill a focaccia; just to remind some popular fillings I want to mention tomatoes, onion, olives, rosemary, but also cheese or ham.

It is possible to find a good focaccia in some bakeries, but I find extremely satisfying to make it on my own. And, when there are guests for dinner, a pretty homemade. freshly baked focaccia always makes a good impression.
The recipe I am going to share today, created by the quite famous baker Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, is my favorite so far, using yeast - yes, I have to confess here that I've recently joined the "sourdough club" after being gifted a  piece of a 170 years old sourdough (this is what I've been told) that I would feel really sorry to waste; so, as I am experimenting with it, maybe in a near future I will have a new favorite sourdough recipe for focaccia.
And I like to make this focaccia in different shapes, with different flours and different fillings. I have already posted on the blog a version with cherry tomatoes (follow this link for the recipe).
Below you find two of the simplest versions, and among my favorites, with rosemary and onion respectively.
Perfect alone and with everything!
Serve it at the beginning of a dinner with guests and they will ask you to bring it away not to spoil the rest of the dinner....

Basic focaccia (Emmanuel Hadjiandreou's recipe)

Basic focaccia (Emmanuel Hadjiandreou's recipe)
makes 2 focaccia
400 g all purpose flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp / about 2 g instant yeast (or 4 g fresh yeast)
300 ml lukewarm water
rosemary, red onion sliced (optional)
flakes of salt (like Maldon) or coarse sea salt
extra virgin olive oil
In a small bowl mix the flour and salt together and set aside. This is the dry mixture.
In another (larger) mixing bowl, add the yeast then pour the lukewarm water over the yeast and stir until it has dissolved. This is the wet mixture.
Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture.
Mix the two mixtures together with a wooden spoon until they come together to form a sticky dough.
Oil another bowl and transfer the dough into it. Cover with the bowl that had the wet mixture in it and let stand for 30 minutes.
After the 30 minutes rest the dough is ready to be kneaded. Leaving it in the bowl, pull a portion of the dough up from the side and press it into the middle. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat this process with another portion of dough. Repeat another 8 times going round the whole bowl (watch the first part of this video where Hajandreaou shows the "ten seconds knead").
Cover the bowl again and let stand for 30 minutes.
Now repeat the kneading process other 7 times, making sure you let the dough stand for 30 minutes in between. In total you'll have 4 hours proofing, with 8 kneadings (with the same simple folding method). At the end the dough should be doubled in size, smooth and resistant and full of bubbles. At any kneading step remember to oil your fingers and the bowl so as the dough is always oiled (oil is very important for a soft focaccia).
After the whole rising, gently divide the dough in two even parts (use a dough scraper), transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment paper and let stand for 10 minutes.
With the tips of your fingers, oiled, flatten the dough to form two focaccia (should be oval shaped). Use a light touch so as not to break the bubbles that have developed in the dough; you can make some dimples in the dough, to collect oil.
Garnish one focaccia with rosemary and the other with the sliced onion and sprinkle with flakes of sea salt (or coarse sea salt).
Add a generous splash of extra-virgin olive oil and let rise for another 20 to 30 minutes during which time the dough will increase in size. In the meantime preheat oven to 240°C.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. To check if the focaccia is cooked, beat it with a wooden spoon: when ready it should
sounds as if it was “empty.  
Serve hot or let it cool slightly. This focaccia is good also at room temperature.

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