Focaccia Garden Recipe | Abel & Cole

Focaccia Garden

Cooking time
Serves6-8 people
Vegetarians
Focaccia Garden

Focaccia is a flat Italian bread flavoured with plenty of olive oil – it’s also an ideal blank canvas for pretty, edible pictures made from organic veg and fragrant herbs. We’ll show you how to bake your own focaccia, letting it rise slowly overnight for maximum flavour, then it’s over to you to create a wild and wonderful (and eminently Instagrammable) garden using your favourite fresh herbs and veg.

Ingredients

  • 500g strong bread flour
  • ½ tbsp sugar
  • 7g fast action dried yeast
  • Herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, chives and sage
  • Veg, such as cherry tomatoes, spring onions, red onions, peppers
  • Black or green olives, pitted
  • Sundried tomatoes, drained

Prep: 45 mins + rising | Cook: 20-25 mins

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Method

1. Sift the bread flour into a mixing bowl and add 1 tsp salt. Whisk together to combine, then set aside. Fill a jug with 300ml hand-hot water and stir in the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 8-10 mins till the yeast forms a foamy layer on top of the water.
2. Pour the water into the dough with 2 tbsp olive oil and stir together to make a soft, sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and knead for 5-10 mins till bouncy and elastic. The dough will be sticky, so keep picking it up and slapping it down onto the work surface, then stretch it out and repeat the motion to knead the dough. Try to avoid adding extra flour as that will make the dough dry. Instead, work with the stickiness and use a dough scraper if you need it.
3. Clean the mixing bowl, then lightly grease it with a little olive oil and pop the dough in there. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel or beeswax paper and set aside somewhere warm to rise for 2 hrs. When it has doubled in size it's ready for the next stage.
4. Slide the risen dough out of the bowl onto your work surface and knock it back into a round. Lightly grease a 28cm x 18cm baking tin with olive oil and place the dough in the tin. Gently stretch it out so it’s the same shape as the tin – it will expand to fill it, so it doesn't need to be stretched to completely cover it. Cover the top of the tin with beeswax paper and pop it in the fridge to slowly rise overnight.
5. Take the focaccia out of the fridge 1 hr before you want to bake it. Use your fingers to gently poke dimples in the top of the dough, then drizzle over a little olive oil and sprinkle over a little salt. Preheat your oven to 230°C/Fan 210°C/Gas 8.
6. Prepare your 'garden' toppings. You can use a mix of herbs, soft veg, olives, antipasti and sundried tomatoes. For our focaccia garden we used trimmed spring onions as the flower stems, cherry tomatoes for the heart of the flowers and thinly sliced red onions for the petals. We also used sprigs of thyme and sage to create the leaves and garden. Experiment to create your own garden.
7. Add the toppings to your focaccia – it will have been slowly rising in the tin while you prepared the toppings. Place the veg and herbs gently on top of the focaccia. Slide the decorated focaccia into the oven and bake for 20-25 mins till it's golden, risen and sounds hollow if you tap it.
8. Take the focaccia out of the oven and let it cool for a few mins in the tin, then carefully lift it out of the tin and place on a wire rack to cool. The focaccia is best eaten on the day it’s made, drizzled with a little extra olive oil.
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