Tag Archives: focaccia

Really good focaccia

Beautiful focaccia

I am not short of focaccia recipes. I have ones that use a sponge starter, a sourdough starter, fresh yeast, dried yeast…but this one that I happened upon in Delicious magazine is my favourite to date. it is absolutely…delicious. And fairly quick and easy.

The dough is – be warned – incredibly frisky and difficult to handle, almost impossible to handle at the beginning. But don’t panic and use plenty of oil for your hands (and oil the surface you’re using). You’ll find you have to wash your hands a lot.

I used to do this in a mixer with a dough hook but a note here that the dough is easier to handle if you do the whole thing by hand.

The baking tray I use is approx 37cm by 28cm. It yields a focaccia which is a perfect depth for me.


500g strong white flour

One and a half teaspoons of fine sea salt

3g/one teaspoon of dried yeast

400g water (make sure it’s not cold, I leave mine out for about 20 mins)

80g of extra virgin olive oil (note: you’ll use this during the stretching process but you’ll have quite a bit left which is okay, you use it just before baking)

toppings: salt/rosemary/chargrilled veg/olives/mozzarella (I use Mozzarella Cucina as it’s a lower hydration cheese but regular mozzarella is fine, just make sure it’s well drained)


Put everything EXCEPT the oil in a bowl, mix up with a fork until it’s all come together, then add a handful of oil from the measured out oil and amalgamate as best you can, then leave it for about 20 mins.

After this, oil a surface/chopping board, again using a bit of the measured out oil to lubricate the surface you’re using (and also your hands) – or you can even use a large shallow tray. Turn the dough out, and gently stretch it out and fold it over on itself a few times. Leave for 30 mins and do the same thing again – stretch, fold. It’s nothing dramatic but you’re trying to get some air bubbles into the dough. Do this once or twice more (leave for 30 mins, stretch and fold) depending on the temperature of the room. You want it a bit bubbly and excited looking.

The recipe says to now put the dough in the fridge for 10 mins. I don’t really do this. After the final rest I pop it in the tray I’ll be using to cook it (I line mine with baking parchment but you don’t have to). Put the dough in, stretch it, fold it, stretch it fold it and then I leave it for about 20 mins to relax. I then stretch it to reach into all four corners of the tin, massaging in all of the left over oil and stick my fingers in to dimple it. At this stage I cover it with oiled clingfilm/more baking parchment (tea-towels tend to stick) and put it in the fridge overnight (I make it in the afternoon if I want it the next day) and cook it in the morning.

If you want to cook it straight away then give it about 30 mins to an hour at room temperature to rest.

I add my toppings before I bake it, top it with salt and bake it in a preheated 220C oven for about 20 minutes. The recipe says to put an oven-proof bowl of water with about 150ml of water in the oven too. Sometimes I do, sometimes I forget. It’s fine.

You want it golden on the top. When it comes out of the oven, brush it with more oil – this is important.

It’s really delicious. Makes excellent sandwiches but isn’t that great the next day (sure you can griddle it to make toasted sandwiches, but…nothing beats what it’s like on the day) – so don’t feel guilty if you eat it all.

It makes a great centre piece for informal dinners/lunches with cheese and cold cuts and if you add chargrilled veg – and I thoroughly recommend you do (chargrill first) it’s a meal in itself with some crispy green salad.

Here’s a pic of it with some toppings, it makes for a really gorgeous meal about 20 mins out of the oven.

I can tell you how good this was: really bloody good.

Pea Porridge, Bury St Edmunds

Before anyone thinks I’ve gone into restaurant reviews, let me stop you right there. If I wrote reviews of food I ate out it would run to no more than a few sentences. It’s less that I am overly easily pleased (although I am fairly easily pleased), more that I run out of things to say about food. I either don’t like it, or I do. I don’t think I have a very sophisticated palate in that I can’t really tell if there is coriander missing in something.

I’m missing that gene.

Really the point of this is more a selfish one. In the same way that my blog now reminds me of things I like to eat and make, this will I hope be a useful repository of places I’ve been that I’ve liked. But it is nice to share good places you’ve been, no?

I don’t live in Bury St Edmunds, which I affectionately call Biddy St Edmunds as the proportion of old biddies (yes, yes, I will be one myself soon) seems to be quite high there and I often seem to have run-ins with them looking at me like I’m going to mug them or not locking the toilet doors in places and then accusing me of trying to burst in on them (“I didn’t lock the door because I was scared of being locked in” happened to me twice, in the space of 20 seconds two weeks ago).

But we don’t live far from there and we visit the Picture House there often, and love it. It’s the closest thing I’ve found to the Barbican cinema, which I used to frequent when I lived near the Barbican in London. Sometimes we escape to the pictures during the day.

This is when and where the proportion of old biddies is really high. Especially if you go on a Wednesday which is market day. Two weeks ago, whilst ‘queuing’ to go into the auditorium, one old biddy turned round and properly screamed when she saw me like that character in Catherine Tate.

The market in Bury is great btw.

We went yesterday and we – my partner and I – got told off for eating our popcorn too loudly by this really grumpy, rude old man. We weren’t, of course. But, for five seconds, we were the young, annoying people. It made our day. We saw Grand Budapest Hotel which we thought was fabulous and afterwards we went to Pea Porridge which is a bit out of the way in a residential bit. But still a very short walk from the centre.

I wanted to eat everything on the menu – really rare for me – and we really struggled to choose two things. I had two starters: grilled squid with black risotto rice, the remnants of which you see in the picture up there (no way am I taking pictures of my meals out like a nutcase, this is what was left). My ‘main’ was a starter of grilled venison heart in a salad with some walnuts. For pud I had poached quince with fromage frais and crumbled amaretti which was light and fresh and yummy. Prices, as you’ll see from the menu, aren’t ridiculous and you can have a shot of brandy or something hair-on-chesty, afterwards for under £3 which is super reasonable.

The bread was so good I almost stole some on my way out – an oil-encrusted focaccia. They carbonate their own water here to cut down on packaging and transportation costs. The espresso was spot on.


It was all amazing. Easily the most memorable meal I’ve eaten out in years. This is not a posh formal restaurant, it’s in an old bakery but looks like it’s in two houses knocked together. It’s laid back, great service. Note that it’s not open every day.

I would thoroughly recommend it.

And that’s it.

There was a table of old biddies sitting next to us but their conversation was sprightly and fun. One uttered the great line of “we had a girl stay with us for a while in the attic”.