Wednesday, 4 August 2010

I Heart Italia: Focaccia

I Heart Focaccia by Charlotte x

While skipping through The River Café Classic Italian Cookbook, feeling slightly guilty for having used it only once (an exceptionally well chosen Christmas present from Matt) I noted a recipe for focaccia with black grapes. Bread and fruit – what a fabulous combination (I can hear my stepfather’s worried tones already). And, it just so happens that Rach has a punnet of red currants sitting on top of the fridge, looking a bit needy, as if they want to be used…

30 minutes later the dough is sitting to rise and I’m looking for fennel seeds. An hour later I am putting the focaccia together – a two tier piece de resistance with blueberries in the middle (not enough red currants in the punnet) and the little red bursts of delight sitting pretty on top. Sugar, olive oil and fennel seeds are thrown on and in the oven it goes to do its business.

Taste testers Jules, Rach, Matt and Ceri step up and despite being a little crispy round the edges (the pizza wheel cutter is not happy) everyone is very encouraging and I eagerly announce the birth of the weekly fruit focaccia - quite keen I admit, but I feel certain that everyone would benefit from a weekly focaccia.

So far I have made three in total (over 9 days). Focaccia number 2 had blueberries in the middle and cherries on top with fennel seeds adding a hint of exquisite excitement. This little focaccia came with me all the way to Pembrokeshire where it was very well received. Focaccia number 3 contained raspberries and was splattered with blackberries, caraway seeds, sugar and oil.

What’s great about this is that you can easily play around with quantities, fruits, seeds, nuts, and whatever else! I now plan to work my way through the other 199 recipes in Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers’ delightful book (while turning out the weekly focaccia of course). Just spotted focaccia col formaggio (with cheese) on page 119!

Recipe – adapted from The River Café


375g plain flour, sieved

150ml warm water

3 tablespoon golden caster sugar

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

10g dried yeast

Pinch of salt


The rest:

600g fruit (black grapes, red currants, cherries, blueberries, raspberries – the list goes on)

Extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons golden caster sugar

3 tablespoons fennel seed (I think caraway seeds work well also)


Sieve the flour into a heap on the worktop and make a well.

Dissolve the yeast in the water and mix in the sugar, salt and olive oil. Pour into the well and mix in with the flour. Knead for at least 15 minutes and then place in a bowl, covered with a damp tea towel (and preferably in a warm spot) for an hour (minimum).

Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees.

Knock back the dough and divide into two. Press out half the dough onto a baking tray (greased with olive oil). Cover with half the fruit and sprinkle with 1.5 tablespoon of sugar, 1.5 tablespoons of fennel or caraway seeds and some oil. Cover with the remaining dough, crimp the edges and repeat.

Bake for around 40 minutes, leave to cool and dish out to deserving amici.



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