Focaccia with Cherry Tomatoes and Olives
By Evonne Lyn Lee
Making Italian focaccia need not be cumbersome nor time-consuming. Bread mixes are great time-savers, especially during this busy festive season. Bake a fresh batch for your Christmas dinner party. Serve it alongside piping-hot Butternut Squash & Cauliflower Soup With Rosemary. And to soak up all the delicious drippings of Orange-glazed Roast Chicken with Stuffing, focaccia’s soft crumb does the job well.
Total Time: 1½ hours
Serves: 4 persons
A: Bread Mix
500g Focaccia bread mix, store-bought
320ml lukewarm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
9 cherry tomatoes, vine-ripened
18-20 green olives, pickled in brine
Fresh rosemary sprigs
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk water and 2 tablespoons olive oil lightly with a fork.
2. Put bread mix into a large mixing bowl; pour in olive oil and water mixture. Mix with a spatula until it just comes together – do not overwork it.
Next, use your hands to roughly shape it into a ball of dough. Set it aside for 5 minutes.
3. Using a pastry brush, grease a bread baking tray with the remaining tablespoon of oil.
4. Transfer dough to a floured surface. Knead it for 2 minutes. Divide dough into 9 equal buns. Place each bun side by side on a greased tray. Rest for 10 minutes.
5. Cover buns with a tea towel. Leave them to rise in a warm place for a further 15 minutes. This is the first rise. Buns will expand and stick together.
6. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of oil all over risen dough. Press thumb into dough to create dimples – fill them with cherry tomatoes and olives. Poke rosemary sprigs into the dough.
7. Leave buns in a warm place for second rise – another 15 minutes
8. Pre-heat oven to 2300celcius for 10 minutes.
9. Bake buns for 15-20 minutes until a golden brown crust forms. To check if focaccia is done, tip bun on its side; tap gently on its base – a hollow sound indicates that it’s cooked.
10. Serve warm with olive oil or butter.
TECHNIQUE: Make deeper dimples in dough to hold tomatoes in place – this stops them from popping up and getting dislodged while baking (see photo above).
Evonne Lyn Lee co-authored Asian Pies with Sarah FC Lee. It’s a collection of 50 pies and tarts with an Asian twist. The book was awarded “Best Asian Cuisine Book in Singapore, 2016” by Gourmand International that organises Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
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