I’ve decided to continue Sunday brunch even if it’s just for one. Today I attempted a more ambitious version of one of Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meal episodes I watched and liked the look of. It was a focaccia filled with antipasti. Naturally, I opted to make my own focaccia rather than relying on a store bought version as is the case in the television recipe. I searched the internet for a “traditional” focaccia recipe and finished with the impression that such a thing only exists as a family secret in Italy. Instead I turned to my hit-and-miss bread bible.
I haven’t eaten focaccia in years, possibly since shortly after arriving in the UK and being highly disappointed by the quality is bread I found here. My memory of what good focaccia is dim and in making this I mentally referred to an episode of the Great British Bake Off. I knew that the consistency of the dough was correct (or close to being so) because it was very moist and impossible to knead in the usual sense. Rather, it was a case of scraping the dough off the kitchen away from the bench top and folding it back onto itself. However this approach seemed to work well and a soon had the desired smooth and elastic mixture.
The recipe calls for sage to mix through and top the bread. I didn’t have any, so used thyme instead. The recipe is also intended to produce two round breads. In the absence of circular tins in my kitchen I instead used a single large rectangular tin. This caused no problems with the final product and, as a bonus, it meant that the bread was a better shape for sandwiches.
I was concerned after the second resting that the bread hadn’t risen sufficiently. By this time I had begun to pre-heat the oven, so I decided to place the bread on top of the stove for the third resting to benefit from the heat. This worked so well that I might use this approach for all of my bread from now on. As can be seen in the pictures below, the bread turned out really well. As well as looking beautiful, the taste was fantastic!
While baking my focaccia I had ample opportunity to prepare my filling. I didn’t use a recipe, but developed my own based on my recollection of the basic concept.
1 red pepper
2 small pickled onions
4 slices of marinated artichoke
12 slices of sunblushed tomatoes
10 kalamata olives, pitted
2 teaspoons of baby capers
A handful of fresh basil leaves
Good quality olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Sea salt and cracked pepper
St Helen’s goats cheese
1. Slice the aubergine thinly, place on a flat tray and roast in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees celsius for about 15 minutes or until cooked.
2. Char the pepper against a flame or roast with the aubergine until all the skin is black. Wrap in a plastic bag and leave to cool for about 5 minutes before removing the skin.
3. Chop all vegetables relatively finely and place in a bowl. Aim for small but distinct pieces otherwise it may become a homogenous mush.
4. Roughly chop the basil leaves and mix through.
5. Add olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning to taste and mix through.
6. Halve the focaccia lengthways. Spoon the antipasti mix onto one side of the bread and grate the cheese over the top before completing the sandwich.
There are an abundance of possible variations on this recipe. Also, it tastes even better if made in advance and left to marinate overnight.