This is a great recipe of Claudia Roden’s that I have made many, many times. I have found that adding some Bush Tomato and Native Basil, together with the olives to her recipe makes a sublime focaccia and the wonderful aromas wafting through your kitchen as this cooks will ensure that this bread doesn’t last long out of the oven! Great for lunch simply accompanied by some excellent cheese and our Outback Tomato Chutney.
1 kg plain flour
50g dried yeast
a generous 1½ cups (350ml) warm water
2/3 cup (150ml) olive oil
2/3 cup (150ml) dry white wine
400g pitted black olives chopped very coarsely
2 tablespoon Native Basil
3 tablespoons ground Bush Tomato
Salt (Outback Spirit Wild Herb Salt is perfect for this)
Preheat oven to 200C
Stir the dried yeast and the sugar into a half glass of the warm water, and place on top of stove to keep warm while the yeast activates.
Using a dough hook, mix the flour and salt together and add it to the flour.
Add the olive oil, the wine and the remaining water. Immediately add the chopped olives, half the thyme and 2 tablespoons of the bush tomatoes. Let the mixer knead the dough until it sticks together in a ball.
Remove the dough from the mixer and hand knead on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes until the dough is soft and elastic.
Leave the dough to rise in a bowl covered with a damp tea towel. If it is not a warm day, place the bowl on the top of the stove to help the yeast work. When the dough has doubled in bulk (between 1 to 2 hours depending on conditions) punch it down and knead again for only a minute or two.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 1cm thick. You may need to rub your rolling pin in flour to stop it sticking to the dough.
The bread should be a long oblong shape. Place this now on a lightly oiled baking tray forming the shape with your hands.
Using your fingers, make depressions in the surface of the dough. Mix the remaining bush tomatoes with the native basil and sprinkle over the bread. Sprinkle Wild Herb Salt ) or grind coarse salt+ lightly over the whole surface.
Bake on the top shelf of the oven for about 25 minutes and bread is a light golden brown. You can brush the baked bread with additional olive oil at this stage and serve while hot.
Copyright Juleigh Robins