Saturday, July 12, 2014

Recipe : Italian Whole Wheat Focaccia (Vegan)

I've never baked bread before. I have baked cakes and savoury muffins (also known as biscuits in American terminology), but I have never worked with yeast before (except to make wines).

I felt like I had got into a cooking rut, so I wanted to challenge myself and bread seemed a great challenge to rouse myself out of a cooking lethargy.

The husband and I have been trying to eat healthy and avoid white flour / maida, so I wanted to try a whole wheat bread. But I'm not a breakfast bread eater, so a focaccia seemed like a safe place to start.

I'd bookmarked this fresh coriander focaccia from Ambrosia, awhile ago since it was whole wheat and it seemed like a great place to start to get familiar with proportions and measurements.

I wanted a traditional Italian flavoured focacia, so instead of fresh coriander, I stuck to Oregano and added some Dominos pizza seasonings to spice it up.

Kim's Tips:
My 2 major learnings were that my yeast wasn't fresh enough, so the bread didn't rise as well as it should have. Always check your yeast, (by dissolving it in a cup of warm water with sugar - it should froth up well) before mixing any other ingredients for baking, especially if you haven't used it for awhile.

The second is that if you are using ingredients like whole olives and chopped sun dried tomatoes as toppings, press them firmly into the dough, so they become one with the bread, rather than sit atop them like pizza toppings as seen in my pictures.

I've adjusted the recipe, to included the changes that would give you the best result. I've ignored things like the salt flakes, that really didn't add much to the taste.

The smell of the focaccia as it bakes, really fills the house and you won't be able to resist, biting into it as soon as it is out of the oven.

1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ cup all purpose flour (maida)
1 cup + 1 tablespoon warm water
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon yeast
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon oregano
2 sachets pizza chilli flakes
2 sachets pizza seasoning
2 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes (1 tbsp finely chopped for mixing, 1 tbsp sliced for topping)
6 - 8 olives for garnish

Dissolve the sugar in warm water.
Add yeast.
Let it stand for 15 minutes, the yeast should froth well. If it doesn't froth, your bread won't rise.

Sift together all purpose flour, whole wheat flour and salt.
From the ¼ cup olive oil, reserve 1 tablespoon for drizzling on the bread. Mix the rest in the flour mix.
Add the oregano, 1 tbsp chopped sun dried tomatoes and 1 sachet each of chilli flakes and pizza seasoning.
Add warm water and knead for 10 minutes till the dough becomes smooth and elastic.

Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Cover and let it rise for 1 hour or till double in size.

Oil one 9 inch round cake pan. (I used a square pan)
Sprinkle some flour on the counter. Roll the dough into a ball. Flatten it and roll into round (square) bread of slightly less diameter than the cake pan.
Transfer the bread into the pan.

Dimple the dough about a dozen times with the tip of your finger pointing straight down.
Leave for 30 minutes.

When the bread has risen well, gently press in the sliced sundried tomatoes and olives. Let them go into the dough, otherwise they tend to fall of when slicing the focaccia and they burn a bit when baking. Then drizzle the remaining olive oil on top.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190 degrees C for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is well browned.

Slice and serve hot with soup, salad or grilled meat.


Che Guevara on the Road said...

Thanks for this wonderful yet such an easy recipe!

I ate a Focaccia bread 2 years back in Cyprus and since then had plans to bake it myself but could not gather the guts. Your recipe was a catalyst for me...

I followed it to the T and the bread came out so well...perfect texture and flavour...

Thanks a ton for your recipe and the virtual inspiration...


Che Guevara on the Road said...

Dear Ms. Pais,

Here is my recipe BlogPost with due credits to you.


Karishma Pais said...

Glad it went well. Will be trying a few more flavours shortly. I love foccacias and the fact that this is half whole wheat just makes it less sinful 😀 but with full on flavour


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