Week 3 of Bake Off saw Bread Week hit the tent with signature focaccias, technical ciabatta breadsticks and showstopping milk bread displays. I always find myself being challenged with bread week to do something new being a novice bread maker and I have always wanted to make focaccia but have been putting it off for a while so what better time than to share with you my Chorizo and Sundried Tomato Focaccia!
Focaccia dough has high hydration which gives its characteristic open crumb structure and therefore I recommend making this using a stand mixer with a dough hook. Such a wet dough would be impossible to knead by hand and you need to develop the gluten well for focaccia. Having never made focaccia before, I decided to follow and adapt the recipe from Claire Saffitz. You can find the full video with the recipe tutorial below:
The process for the recipe is almost identical to Claire’s, except that all of the ingredient quantities are halved and instead of an 18 x 13 sheet pan, I use a 9 x 13 sheet pan. My choice of topping is chorizo and sun-dried tomato. I give the focaccia a very decorative element by using slices of chorizo and rolling them up into flower shapes. To do this, you make a cut from the centre to the edge and then roll up from one side all the way round, trimming off the bottom so they sit nicely in the focaccia. Unfortunately they tend to catch in the oven but they still look so decorative! Lots of the flavour for the focaccia comes from the extra virgin olive oil, used in the bowl for proving to prevent the dough sticking and in the tray to prevent sticking but also give that fantastic crisp crust which contrasts with the soft interior.
For the focaccia:
- 400g strong white bread flour
- 7g fast action dried yeast
- 8g salt
- About 350ml of room temperature water
- About 100ml extra virgin olive oil
- About 12 thin slices of chorizo
- 6 sun-dried tomatoes, drained
- 1 spring onion, green part only finely chopped
For the focaccia dough, place the yeast in the bowl with about 100ml of the water, stir to combine and allow to sit for 10 minutes until the yeast is foamy. Then add the rest of the water with the flour and the salt. With the mixer on low-medium speed and using the dough hook attachment, mix until the ingredients are all incorporated.
Then increase the speed to high for 5 minutes until the dough looks smoother. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and let the dough rest for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn the mixer onto medium-high speed until the dough is smooth and very elastic and does not stick to the sides as much, about 10 or 15 minutes.
Pour 50ml of the olive oil into a separate bowl and swirl around the bowl to coat. Dip a spatula or a dough scraper into the oil and then use the spatula to transfer the dough into the oiled bowl. Cover the surface of the dough with some oil to prevent sticking and make sure that the dough is not stuck to the sides of the bowl. Cover with clingfilm and allow the dough to prove for around 90 minutes or until doubled in size.
Pour the rest of the oil into a 9 by 13 inch baking tray which is about 1 inch high and spread to coat the entire tin.
Bringing your hands down the sides and underneath the dough, lift up the dough and gently place it back down. Rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat the lifting process for three more times. Then transfer the dough to the oiled baking tray. Begin to stretch out the dough in the tin but at this point, it will not fill up the whole tin. Cover the dough with a piece of oiled clingfilm and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. After this, the dough will have relaxed and can be flattened out to fill most, if not all, of the tin. Cover again with clingfilm and leave to prove for a further hour until the dough is almost at the top of the tin.
To prepare the topping, make a cut from the centre to the edge of each chorizo slice and then roll up tightly one side following the chorizo around. Slice off the bottom halfway and put on a plate to hold the shape. Repeat with the rest of the chorizo slices. Cut the spring onion greens into small pieces and chop the sun-dried tomatoes into chunks.
Preheat the oven to 200°C fan.
When the dough has proved, oil your fingers and press into the focaccia with your fingers to make dimples across the dough, making sure you hit the tin with your fingers. Arrange the toppings on the focaccia, making sure they are evenly distributed over the surface but are also not too placed. I start with the chorizo flowers and then arrange everything around them.
Bake the focaccia for 15 to 20 minutes on the lowest shelf of the oven. The surface should be a strong golden brown. Move the focaccia to the top shelf and bake for a further 5 minutes to make the crust crispy – naturally, the toppings will become much darker. Leave the focaccia to cool on the tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a chopping board and slicing into your focaccia. Enjoy on its own or alongside any meal!
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