( MAKES 2 large loaves )
Photo by Annabel Langbein Media
This is a wonderfully supple focaccia dough that makes enough for two large loaves. You can freeze half the dough to cook later. The potato keeps the dough tender and stops it from drying out. I use leftover mashed potato but if you don’t have any in the fridge, boil potatoes until tender, mash them and allow them to cool before adding them to the recipe. The wetter the dough is, the lighter the finished result will be, so don’t be tempted to keep adding flour. This favourite dough can be cooked in so many ways including parmesan and basil dimples and cheese and ham twists
|1½ cups||Warm water, not hot|
|1½ tsp||Dry yeast, granules, or use instant yeast|
|1 cup||Mashed potato|
|¼ cup||Extra virgin olive oil|
|4½ cups||High grade flour, or baker’s flour, plus a little extra for kneading|
- Place warm water in a large mixing bowl (a breadmaker or electric mixer with a dough blade is ideal if you have one). Sprinkle yeast over the water and allow to stand for 2 minutes (if using instant yeast you can leave this step out and just add the yeast into the flour and mix everything together). Mix in the mashed potato and the ¼ cup olive oil. Stir in the flour and salt and mix until the dough just starts to come away from the sides of the bowl. Don’t add too much flour — it should be soft and sticky. Turn the dough on to a lightly floured board and, using lightly oiled hands, (the dough should be very sticky) knead about 30 times (or for 3-4 minutes on the dough cycle of a breadmaker).
- Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with muslin or a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk (3-4 hours). You can also leave it in the fridge, covered, to rise slowly overnight. When you’re ready to cook your bread, turn the risen dough on to a lightly floured board, divide in half and shape each half into a ball. Roughly flatten one ball on to a tray lined with baking paper, pressing the dough out to an oval shape about 25 x 20cm.
- Use your fingertips to press dimples into the top of the loaf, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt. Allow to stand for another 10-15 minutes in a warm place while you place a baking stone or steel baking tray on the centre shelf of the oven and preheat oven to 220C fanbake. Slide the baking paper with the loaf on it off the tray and on to the preheated baking stone or tray. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden.
- When cooked, the bread will sound hollow when you tap it. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking stone or tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool. Repeat with the other ball of dough, or use it to make cheese and ham twists or parmesan and basil dimples. If you want to save the second ball of dough to use later, place it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean cloth and place in the fridge for up to 48 hours. It also freezes well. Thaw before pressing out and baking.