Can You Bake a Gourmet Focaccia with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives?

March 20, 2024

Baking bread at home can be a daunting task. Mixing, kneading, proving, and shaping – there’s a lot to consider. But the reward? A warm, fluffy, and crispy bread straight from your oven, filling your home with the comforting scent of homemade baking. Among all bread recipes, focaccia is an easy and versatile option. This Italian bread, characterized by its dimpled surface, is typically topped with olives, olive oil, and rosemary. But can you elevate your focaccia by adding gourmet ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes? The answer is a resounding yes! So, let’s dive right in and explore this delicious recipe.

Getting Started with Focaccia Dough

Focaccia, like any other bread, starts with a basic dough. The key to a perfect focaccia is a well-leavened, yeasty dough that results in a bread that’s soft and fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside.

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To start, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 500 grams of bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of dried yeast
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 300 ml of warm water

Combine the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Then, make a well in the center. Pour in the olive oil and warm water. Use a wooden spoon to mix everything together until you have a slightly sticky dough.

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Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean tea towel, and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until it doubles in size.

Steps for Baking Focaccia

Once your dough has risen, it’s time to turn it into a focaccia. For this part, you will need:

  • The risen dough
  • Olive oil (for drizzling)
  • Coarse salt (for sprinkling)

First, preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C fan) or gas mark 6. Then, knock back the dough by punching it down in the middle. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead briefly to remove any air bubbles.

Shape the dough into a rough rectangle and place it on a baking sheet. The beauty of focaccia is that it doesn’t need to be a perfect shape. Use your fingers to press dimples into the top of the dough, then drizzle generously with olive oil, ensuring it pools in the dimples. Sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and crisp.

Adding a Gourmet Twist: Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives

Now, let’s get to the fun part – adding our gourmet touches. Sun-dried tomatoes and olives not only add a pop of color but a burst of flavor to your bread, as well.

You’ll need the following:

  • A handful of black olives, pitted
  • A handful of sun-dried tomatoes

Simply press the olives and sun-dried tomatoes into the dough after creating the dimples and before the final drizzling of oil and sprinkling of salt. Then, bake as directed.

Tips for Serving and Enjoying Your Focaccia

Focaccia is best enjoyed fresh out of the oven – but it can also be served at room temperature. It’s perfect as a side for soups, salads, and pastas, or used as a base for sandwiches.

For an added burst of flavor, consider serving it with a dip. A simple mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar makes for a great dipping sauce. Alternatively, a creamy hummus or a robust marinara sauce also complement the flavors of the sun-dried tomatoes and olives beautifully.

While this recipe is easy enough for beginners, it still has the potential to impress. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or just looking for a weekend baking project, give this gourmet focaccia a try. You’ll be rewarded with a loaf that’s as tasty as it is beautiful.

How to Store Your Focaccia Bread

Properly stored, your homemade focaccia can last a few days, allowing you to savor the mouthwatering combination of sun-dried tomatoes and olives for longer. Here’s how to go about it.

To store your focaccia, allow it to cool completely at room temperature after it’s out of the oven. The cooling process is important because if you store your bread while it’s still warm, the heat can cause condensation, making your bread soggy.

Once cool, wrap your focaccia tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. If you’re planning to consume it within a day or two, you can simply store it at room temperature. However, if you want to keep it for longer, it’s best to refrigerate it.

If you decide to freeze your focaccia, slice it into portions first for easy thawing later. Wrap each portion in plastic wrap and then foil. Your frozen focaccia can last for up to a month. To thaw, remove from the freezer and let it sit at room temperature. You can also reheat it in the oven at a low temperature to restore its original crispness and warmth.

Conclusion: Embrace the Art of Bread Baking

Baking bread at home is not only rewarding but also a creative and therapeutic process. This focaccia recipe with sun-dried tomatoes and olives is a perfect example. It’s an easy bread recipe that allows you to experiment with different gourmet ingredients and create a loaf that’s uniquely yours.

Focaccia bread is wonderfully versatile. It’s a perfect accompaniment to a variety of dishes, from hearty soups to creamy pastas. You can serve it as an appetizer, use it for sandwiches, or simply enjoy it on its own dunked in a flavorful dip. And with the addition of sun-dried tomatoes and olives, you’ll have a loaf that looks as stunning as it tastes.

So, regardless of whether you’re a seasoned home baker or a newbie just dipping your toes into the world of bread baking, this focaccia with sun-dried tomatoes and olives is worth trying. It’s a testament that with the right ingredients, a bit of patience, and a touch of creativity, anyone can bake a gourmet loaf of bread in their own kitchen.

Remember, the best focaccia is the one you bake with love, passion, and a bit of adventurous spirit. So roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients, and let’s get baking!