It’s the weekend and this wondrous realization springs a few things to mind: sleeping in (we have trained the boys to entertain themselves for an hour or so, until we are ready to get out of our cave! So far so good, they are both still intact…), leisurely breakfast and baking! These three simple joys of mine incapsulate the intrinsic beauty of spending time at home with the ones I love and I cherish them dearly. Sleeping in is something I have always been terrific at, it’s embedded in my DNA, I’m Italian, as much as I try to disguise it, I am lazy! The long, indulgent breakfast is possibly not so Italian, we are famous for our quickies at the counter of a café as we rapidly ingest a short black and devour pastries. I suppose when I became an Australian citizen I acquired this new, lovely habit, along with excellent swear words and slang! Then there’s the baking… if you are familiar with my recipes, you know by now I’m a self-confessed baking addict, especially when it comes to yeasted goods. And so I can’t think of anything more perfect than kneading a silky dough, watch it grow and top it with some Italian favourites. This wholemeal focaccia with olives and chillie is just what I need.
INGREDIENTS, serves 8-10
1 tablespoon of dried yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon of barley malt syrup or honey
1-2/3 cup of wholemeal (wholewheat) flour +1 cup of 00 or plain flour
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons of salt
For the glaze : 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon of water
salt for sprinkling on top
1/2 cup of mixd pitted olives
1 chillie, sliced
1. In a large bowl dissolve yeast with 3/4 water, add flour, oil and barley malt syrup or honey. Mix for for a few minutes, then add the salt. If you think the dough is too dry, add the remaining water. Wholemeal flour can require a little extra moisture than regular flour.
2. Knead vigorously until it looks smooth and elastic, this will take about 10 minutes if doing by hand or 5 if enlisting the help of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.
3. Shape into a ball and rest for 20 minutes in a bowl, covered with a tea towel.
4. Stretch it with your hand to form a rectangle and fold into 3. This step will give strength and texture to your dough and is essential in order to obtain a soft, airy and chewy focaccia. Repeat one last time after 30 minutes.
5. Place the folded dough in an oiled oven tray, cover it with a tea-towel and let it prove for around 90 minutes or until it doubles in size.
6. Once the dough has risen, stretch it out to cover the tray and sprinkle the surface with seasalt.
7. Let it rest for another 30 minutes, then, using your fingertips, press the dough down onto the tray to create lots of little holes.
8. Drizzle the holes with the glaze and sprinkle with some more salt. Top with pitted olives and roughly sliced chillies.
9. Let your focaccia rest for another 20 minutes, while your oven heats up to 200 C (390 F).
10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until it looks slighly golden and delicious. Allow to cool at room temperature in the tray for 10-15 minutes, then serve cut into pieces.