Fresh Hyssop and Cornmeal Foccacia

An old-fashioned herb, hyssop, adds a distinctive flavour to Sophie Grigson's version of an olive oil-flavoured Italian bread.
By Sophie Grigson
Fresh Hyssop and Cornmeal Foccacia
  • Rating:
  • Serves: Makes a 30 cm x 20 cm flat loaf
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes plus resting
  • Effort: medium

Ingredients

Main

  • 500 ml warm water
  • 450 g strong bread flour, plus extra for kneading
  • 1 sachet fast action dried yeast
  • 250 g cornmeal or polenta
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 6 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for oiling
  • 4 tbsp fresh hyssop leaves, hopped
  • coarse sea salt, for sprinking

Method

1. Sift one third of the strong flour. Pour the warm water into a large bowl and whisk in the sifted flour, the yeast and sugar. Keep whisking until the mixture is smooth, then cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for at least 30 minutes, and up to 2 hours.

2. Now mix in the remaining flour, cornmeal and salt, stirring in well to form a wet dough.

3. Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil to the dough and knead slowly for 5 minutes, either by hand (first oiling your hands) or using a mixer with a bread hook, adding a little extra flour as you go.

4. Once the dough feels smooth and elastic cover once more with a damp tea towel and set aside to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until doubled in bulk.

5. Drizzle over the remaining olive oil and sprinkle the hyssop over the dough. Repeat the kneading process, dusting lightly with flour.

6. Transfer the dough to an oiled 30cm x 20cm baking tin and spread the dough out into the corners using freshly oiled hands.

7. Smear a little olive oil over the top of the dough and press your fingers down into the dough here and there to create dimples. Scatter with coarse sea salt, cover with a damp tea towel and set aside to rise in a warm place for an hour or so.

8. Preheat the oven 220°C/gas 7.

9. Bake the bread for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Run a knife round the edge, then turn out onto a wire rack. For best eating, serve warm from the oven.

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