Rosemary focaccia

Katie Caldesi learned the recipe from a Tuscan baker, whose trick is to conceal the fragrant sprigs of rosemary in the dough
Rosemary focaccia
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 10
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Effort: easy

Ingredients

  • 500 g strong or '00' flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 15 g fresh yeast
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • plain flour, for dusting
  • 1 large sprig rosemary
  • 4-6 tbsp pesto
  • 1 ball buffalo mozzarella
  • rock salt, for sprinkling
  • rocket, for serving (optional)

Method

1. Mix the strong flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl.

2. Blend the yeast with 300ml tepid water, rubbing with your fingers to remove any lumps. Add the yeast mixture and 2½ tablespoons of the olive oil to the flour and mix well using a plastic dough scraper or your hand.

3. Bring all the ingredients together into a ball of dough and knead until it comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it by pulling, stretching and folding for around 10 minutes. The dough should be soft; if it is very sticky add a little more flour. The dough is ready when it feels elastic and bounces back when pressed; if not, keep kneading.

5. Fold the edges of the dough underneath to give a smooth, round ball. The top side will be the surface of the focaccia. Grease a large clean bowl with some of the remaining olive oil to prevent the dough sticking to it.

6. Put the smooth, top side of the dough into the oiled bowl face-down and turn to coat the top and sides with oil (this will prevent a crust from forming and stop it sticking). Cover with cling film or a tea towel and leave in a warm spot for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

7. Slide the risen dough onto an oiled baking tray or roasting tin, smooth side up. Use your fingertips to make indentations in the dough, flattening it into an oval about 3cm thick. Drizzle with olive oil and leave to rise in a warm, dry place again for another 30-40 minutes, until doubled in size.

8. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Pick the tiny sprigs from the rosemary branch and stick them into the dough, pressing them in deeply to prevent them burning in the oven. Press the mozzarella onto the surface, then drizzle with the pesto.

9. Sprinkle with rock salt and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. If the bottom is not cooked, turn the focaccia over and bake for a further 5 minutes.

10. Leave the focaccia to cool in a basket or on a wire rack to prevent the loaf becoming soggy. Garnish with rocket before serving if desired.

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