Is making spelt focaccia easy? You spend a few minutes making it, ten seconds kneading and an hour or two watching it rise! Really tricky? No signora! The Daring kitchen challenge introduced me to many variations on this Italian flatbread so why spelt flour focaccia? Well, spelt is such a tasty flour with a slightly nutty flavour and a type of gluten that’s easier to digest. You know, for my very strict diet! ha ha :). On my first attempt at fogaccia I also wanted to focus on the dough and have a simple topping so I brushed the bread with olive oil infused with fresh rosemary and red chilli pepper flakes. And with master baker Paul Hollywood’s help (more about that later) it actually tasted and looked a bit like focaccia! With an olive oil infused outer crust and soft springy interior it was delicious plain or filled with cecina, cured beef. Now imagine the fantastic kitchen smells wafting around the house! It’ll bring out the Italian in you and soon you’ll be gesticulating, bringing your fingers to your lips to kiss and exclaiming: Mamma mia! Bellissima questa focaccia, ma che buono!!! 🙂Okay, now you’ve decided to be Italian it’s off to la cucina (the kitchen) and presto! (double quick). The instructions will be in English and based on Cook Almost Anything’s spelt focaccia, very similar to Paul Kahan’s recipe (minus toppings).
Before we start I’ll just mention Paul Hollywood and his focaccia technical challenge on the Great British Bake Off, my favourite baking competition. Partly because no-one ever shouts. The judges almost always look sympathetic and say something nice even when faced with the worst baking disaster. It’s all so relaxing and sweet, plus there are witticisms.
Anyway, almost all the contestants decided the proportions Mr Hollywood had given on their recipe sheets must be wrong because the dough was so sticky, so they added more flour or less liquid. Oh dear … BIG mistake! Paul Hollywood later explained to the poor contestants whose faces had dropped that the dough should be very sticky, so extra flour should not be added and all the liquid is required. That way you get all those unevenly-sized airy holes in the dough that are characteristic of focaccia.
This was all news to me but I remembered his words when my own hands were covered in dough and followed his advice. Okay, I might have sprinkled a tiny bit of flour on the work surface. Then I just used a little olive oil on my hands to help manipulate the dough when placing on the baking tray. And look: some unevenly-sized holes!!! Of course I wouldn’t mind ole ‘silver fox’ Paul Hollywood being here to confirm this focaccia is up to scratch.
Ahem, back to the focaccia. Ah yes, with spelt focaccia you also have to spend very little time kneading the dough. Seconds. Not even minutes. Because it’s spelt flour.
Great British Bake Off Focaccia challenge
If you’d like to watch the Great British Bake Off focaccia challenge it’s here with a pink frame (25:50 – 34:20):
Or framed in blue (23:30 – 31:10):
Choose your colour. 🙂
Line a baking tray (30x40cm) with greaseproof paper and lightly grease with olive oil.
Ingredients and method
300g (2 and a half cups) white spelt flour
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dry active yeast
128g (1 cup) warm water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 fresh rosemary sprigs (broken up)
- a teaspoon or two of red chilli flakes, to taste
- a grind of black pepper
- Prepare the topping to allow time for infusion.
- Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and whisk to combine.
- Make a well in the middle and slowly pour in the water and olive oil, gradually stirring outwards with a fork or spoon to incorporate into the flour.
- When the mixture is coming together transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead very briefly, from 10 to 20 seconds. Use a plastic scraper to help you and don’t add flour! 🙂 Make a ball.
- Place the ball of dough gently into a bowl greased lightly with olive oil.
- Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and keep in a warm place until it rises and doubles in size (about an hour).
- When it’s doubled in size, take the dough and place on your prepared baking tray. Look at how sticky it was! But I remembered Paul Hollywood’s words and didn’t panic or add flour!
- Put a little olive oil on your fingers and use the tips to stretch and spread the dough out on the tray.
- Brush lightly with your olive oil, rosemary and chilli pepper flakes topping. Sprinkle some salt on it, to taste. Press holes in with your fingers (quite firmly) to create a ‘dimpled’ effect – I need to work on that!
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap (optional) and let the dough rise again in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes, till doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (static, non-convection oven) or 180°C (fan-assisted oven)
- When doubled in size bake for 25 to 35 minutes in the middle of the oven. It should be golden brown and ‘feel cooked’!
The daring bakers have been posting photos and saying how easy and delicious their focaccias were. Check out their lovely bakes at the Daring Kitchen. So have you been bitten by the focaccia bug? Try it and you’ll see baking spelt focaccia really is a doddle! Lots of toppings and stuffing you can improvise too! Do you have any favourites or suggestions?
Now I’ll bid you farewell savoury reader, wishing you all a delightful Monday and una bellissima settimana (week)! With lots of lovely food all week long!!! Buon appetito! 🙂