Thursday, August 2, 2012

Olive, Cheese and Garlic No-knead Focaccia

Among the breads that I bake, I love focaccia. It is an Italian flat bread, with olive oil and optionally with some toppings. The Italian herbs and garlic as toppings add a nice flavor and taste to the bread, and the olive oil makes it soft. Add cheese and top it with olives and some chives, it becomes a heavenly bread. The no-knead version of this bread, is so easy to put together, without the need for straining your arms by kneading and kneading! Just mix the batter, beat it a few times with a strong spatula and dump it in the baking tin. When risen, top it with your favorite toppings and bake. That’s it!

Well, coming to tins, when I made it, I didn’t have any bread tins or cake tins other than the bundt pan and a few huge cookie sheets. That shouldn’t stop my spirit for baking right? I baked it on the cookie sheet, making an almost circle of about 9” with the dough! And it worked fine. The bread baked up fine and the ‘almost’ circular shape didn’t matter once it was cut.

Here’s how to make it… if you’re scared of baking breads, you must try this first, or my other no-knead focaccia here, to drive off the fear :)

Olives and Cheese Focaccia

Preparation time        : 10-15 min + rising time of about 1 hr
Baking time                 : 35-40 min
Makes             :  one 9” round bread of abt 1 ½ -2” height
Recipe Source : Here, originally from KAF site

For the batter
All Purpose flour - 1 ½ cups plus 2 Tbsp / 210 grams
Warm water - ¾ cup
Dried thyme (or your favorite dried herb) - generous heaped ½ tsp
Chilli flakes - 1 tsp or to taste
Salt - ¾ tsp
Instant yeast or Active dried yeast - 1 ½ tsp ( I use instant)
Sugar - ¾ tsp
Olive oil - 1 ½ Tbsp plus more for greasing the pan

To mix in
Roasted garlic pods - 1, medium sized (not more, as yeast doesn't love too much garlic, says the KAF site), mashed or chopped fine. I was scared that 3 would be too much, so added just one to the batter and added more later in topping
Cheese - 100 grams or more, cut into ½” cubes (Recipe suggests cheddar, Monterey Jack or flavored cheddar) I used flavored cheddar

For the topping
Olive Oil - 1 ½ tsp
More dried herbs for topping
Basil leaves - a few, I didn’t use this
Chives - 2-3 Tbsp, chopped
Olives - 10-12, pitted and chopped
Garlic - 2 pods, chopped fine
  • Grease and line the bottom and sides of a 9'' round tin. Grease again.
  • Sift the flour, salt, chili flakes and dried thyme to mix well. Keep aside.
  • In a large bowl, take the sugar and the yeast.
  • Add the warm water ( If using active dried yeast, you would need to proof it first using the warm water, yeast and sugar, let it stand for about 5-10 minutes till frothy and then proceed with the next step).
  • Add water and the oil.  Mix. Tip in the flour mixture.
  • Stir with a wooden spoon till all the flour is incorporated. Then beat 20 times with the spoon. The batter will be sticky.
  • Mix in the chopped garlic and the cheese cubes.
  • Transfer the batter to the greased tin. Push gently with greased hands to cover the entire pan.
  • Spread some oil lightly over the surface. Dimple the dough with your fingers.
  • Cover with a greased aluminum foil and let rise in a warm place for an hour. The dough will be puffy (not necessarily double the volume) at the end of one hour.
  • Towards the end of the rise period, pre-heat oven to 190 degrees C / 375 degrees F.
  • Drizzle oil on top. Remove the foil, sprinkle the topping. Distribute the olives evenly over the entire bread
  • Bake for 35 -40 minutes or till light golden brown on top.
  • The bread will not brown a lot as there is very little sugar in the batter.
  • The bottom should sound hollow when tapped. (It should read between 200-210F on an instant read thermometer - I don’t have one…yet)
  • Cool on the wire rack in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan, place on the rack and cool further.
  • Cut when warm - the cheesy bits taste awesome when warm
  • For a pizza like flavor, as Suma has done, ¼ cup of water can be replaced with pizza sauce, but I preferred not to
  • The bread was very soft and nice for about a day. The next day it turned out to be a little dry. After warming it a bit, it was again soft
  • Tastes best when warm and just about cool… with the cheese bits here and there, and the tang of olives adding to the taste.


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