There is a reason for this. The best focaccia I've ever had the pleasure of tasting is that formally sold by Waitrose, in a pack of 3 called Focaccia Trio. It to was in this format, with 3 breads each making up a third: black olive, herb+seed and tomato+pepper. I wasn't fussed by the herb, but the tomato was divine. The olive wasn't as nice, but pretty damn good. Waitrose sold it for years and was vegan according to their website. It was popular and always selling out. Then, one day, they replaced it with some rubbish with milk powder in. Since when did Italian bakers use milk powder?
I attempted to recreate it but failed - all focaccias I tried (including those in Carol Field's focaccia book) weren't up to scratch. I'm guessing the Waitrose one wasn't traditional and that Field does actually know what she's talking about, but anyway. The thing that set it aside was that it wasn't simply stuffed, the flavour was marbled through the dough and fully infused within it. Every mouth full was perfect loveliness.
I've not made focaccia for a while, and when I do make it these days I tend to go for caramelised red onion, garlic and rosemary. I decided this weekend however to try a black olive one instead. The results were pretty good I have to say (almost all of it got eaten between us within minutes of photographing), but it's not focaccia perfection yet. My criticism: could take more seasoning/flavour and due to it's height was ever so slightly doughy. I'm going to go for a slightly larger pan next time and use more salt. I'm blogging what I made this time round however and will revisit it another time.
- 1 tsp fast acting dried yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 350g White Bread Flour
- 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 210ml Water
Meanwhile, blend 15 fresh pitted black olives (not the preserved type that come in brine) with 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp dried thyme and 1 tsp minced garlic in a food processor.
When the dough is complete turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for a minute. Roll it out and spread with the olive paste.
Fold the dough over several times then take the ends and twist the whole thing. This is to try and get the marbled effect and evenly distribute the paste throughout the dough.
Move the dough to a 25cm oiled loose bottomed tin, cover and place in a warm place for 20 minutes. After the dough has risen make holes with your finger tips and pour extra virgin olive oil into them. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise again for 15 minutes, top with chopped olives and bake in a 200oc oven for 25 minutes, or until the top goes golden and starts to crack.
Wait until it has cooled before removing from the tin and cutting. I don't know how long it lasts but it's best eaten fresh.
Update: The small amount that was left the morning after tasted better. I think next time I'll make slightly thinner, use no garlic, more salt and infuse the EV oil somehow with olive before using.