FOCACCIA (Italian flat bread)
450 g (1 lb) strong white (bread) flour
1 tsp salt
1 sachet easy-blend dried yeast, about 7 g
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
300 ml (10 fl oz) tepid water
½ tsp coarse sea salt
Prep: 1 hour |Cook: 15 mins
1. Put the flour into a large bowl and stir in the salt and yeast. Make a well in the centre and pour in 3 tbsp of the olive oil and the tepid water. Gradually mix the flour into the oil and water, using a wooden spoon at first, then by hand, to make a soft, slightly sticky dough.
2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Keep the dough moving by turning, punching and folding it to prevent it from sticking. Sprinkle the surface with a little extra flour if necessary, but try not to add too much as this will make the dough dry.
3. Shape the dough into a ball and slap it onto a greased baking sheet, then roll it out (or push it out with your hands) into a round about 21 cm (8 1/2 in) in diameter and 2 cm ( 3/4 in) thick. Cover loosely with a clean tea-towel, tucking the ends under the baking sheet, and leave in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until the dough has double 1/2 in thickness.
4. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 230ºC (450ºF, gas mark 8). Uncover the bread. Pour a little hand-hot water into a cup, then dip your fingers into the water and press into the risen dough to make deep dents all over the top; wet your fingers each time, to leave the top of the loaf moist. Brush the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil over the bread and sprinkle with the coarse salt.
5. Bake the focaccia for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then wrap it in a clean tea-towel to soften the crust. Serve warm or allow to cool completely. The bread can be kept in a polythene bag for up to 2 days.