I love making my own breads and I used to make them a lot while I lived in the UK… Simply because there aren’t any bakeries there… However, making bread requires a lot of time, and it is never as good as when you buy it in a French bakery. So when I make some, I prefer to make some original types of bread that you cannot find in any bakery. Just like this Cherry Tomatoes, Black Olives, Rosemary & Hard Wheat Focaccia. Focaccias are olive oil Italian breads baked in a mould. You can use any ingredients / leftovers you would like to give them a specific taste, such as cheese, ham, onions, olives, herbs, spice, etc. So focaccias are a sort of enriched bread, halfway between bread and pizzas. In the South of Italy, just like in the South of France and North Africa, most people use hard wheat semolina rather than soft wheat flour to make bread and pasta. To find out more about hard wheat vs. soft wheat, please read here. This ficaccia, made out of hard wheat semolina, is typical from the Puglia region, in the South of Italy. It is impressingly soft and fluffy. I used a great recipe from the fabulous “Un Déjeuner de Soleil” website. So please find below how ta make it…
Bread Starter (To mke the day before)
- 40 g flour
- 3 cl lukewarm water
- 3 g fresh yeast
Combine all the ingredients, place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature for 18 to 24 hours. This will allow the yeast to develop lots of aromas. If you skip/shorten this step, you will have a bland focaccia that will just taste like industrial bread purchased at the supermarket…
- 500 g ultra thin semolina (not couscous semolina, too grainy – see the difference on the picture up)
- 35 cl water
- 15 g fresh yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Combine all the ingredients, including the bread starter, in your bread machine or food processor. Work the dough until it gets very elastic. Your dough will be more liquidy than a normal bread or pizza dough. This is normal, and this is also why you need a food processor to make it…
Leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes to one hour.
Cover a cake tray with some kitchen foil. Place the focaccia dough. Cover with some oiled plastic wrap and leave to rise again for 2 to 3 hours at room temperature, or even better, all night long in the fridge (will develop even more aromas).
You can use whatever you like. For this focaccia, I used the following:
- 1 handfull of cherry tomatoes
- 1 handfull of stoned black olives
- Fresh rosemary and oregano
- Black Pepper
- Coarse sea salt
Preheat the oven at 250°C, in static position (and not convection). Place in this latter a bowl of hot water, which will make some steam and will help your focaccia rise while baking.
Cut the cherry tomatoes in halves, place them, skin side up, on your focaccia. Place the olives, then sprinkle some rosemary and oregano. Finish with some black pepper and coarse sea salt.
Bake your focaccia, first 10 minutes at the bottom of the oven, then 10 minutes in the middle.
Serve with a green salad, and maybe some olive oil and corse sea salt as a dip.