In honour of National Bread Week I am posting Focoaccia which I have been meaning to make ever since I saw Paul Hollywood making some on the Alan Tichmarsh show a couple of years ago! I was recently sent a box of goodies from Steenbergs one of which was za’atar (which is popular in Syria and Lebanon). I had never come across this before (or some of the other products) so mild panic did set in as I felt like I’d opened up a box of sheet music and been asked to play a medley when I’m note blind! Anyway after a quick look at Wikipedia, a trip to the library and a snoop in a book shop I decided to make the first thing that had already come into my head which was Focaccia. Indeed Paul Hollywoods latest book had some kind of flat bread covered in za’atar so I felt I was barking up the right tree! My daughter loves olives so we decided that these should also be included and I based my recipe on the one featured here for National Bread Week. I have to say that we had this with my Glenda’s Winter Lentil Soup and we ate the whole loaf between the 4 us – it was a big hit and I will be making this again!
My daughter has now become a za’atar fan and comes in from school asking for some pitta, houmous (or olive oil) and za’atar. The Steenbergs version contains thyme, oregano, marjoram and parsley together with sumac, toasted sesame seeds and salt.
I used my small Mermaid baking sheet which was just the right size for making Focaccia and because it’s made of hard anodised aluminium there is no bending or warping in the oven which you get with cheaper quality baking sheets. The heat distribution is also second to none!
Here’s a pictorial step-by-step guide:
- 15g / ½ oz Dried active yeast
- 180ml / 6fl oz Warm water
- 350g / 12 oz Strong plain flour
- 1 tsp Table salt
- 50g Black olives, pitted and quartered
- 1 tbsp Za’atar
- 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pinches Coarse sea salt
- Put just 120ml/4fl oz of warm water in a small bowl and stir in the yeast, leave for 10 minutes to go frothy.
- Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl and stir in the yeast mixture and the rest of the water with a wooden spoon, you might need a little more water!
- Use your hands to bring the dough together and transfer to a floured surface, knead for a few minutes until smooth and elastic.
- Put the dough in a well oiled bowl covered with cling film, and set aside in a warm place (airing cupboards are good) to prove for about 1 ½ hours until doubled in size.
- Meanwhile lightly oil a baking sheet and 10 minutes before proving has ended preheat the oven to 220°C.
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface, punch down then sprinkle in the chopped olives and knead for a few minutes.(You might need to add in 2 batches).
- Place the dough on the oiled baking sheet, pulling it into a rectangle about 1.5cm/3/4” deep.
- Make dimples in the dough using your fingers or knuckles then brush the olive oil over the surface and sprinkle on the Za’atar and course sea salt.
- Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature with more olive oil for dipping.