Fab India

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.”
M.F.K. Fisher

Ottolenghis FocacciaIt was bread baking day. Sometime days are like that, now rather rare, and with a relatively ‘free’ day comes the urge to make bread. Chatting with Sangeeta on FB, she was sipping her morning tea, me already on my second coffee and the laundry whirring annoyingly, I was hit with a ‘bread baking feeling . By afternoon I had a brilliant Focaccia bursting with flavour yelling to get out of the oven!Ottolenghis FocacciaThe bread recipe caught me by surprise. In my head I had a slightly quicker bread, something which would just do a single rise, yeast & all. I turned to one of my all time favourite books, Ottolenghi, The Cookbook but didn’t read the recipe thoroughly though …Ottolenghis Focaccia I always heel ‘happy’ when I read the book – so much quality food, fresh produce holding the key to the end result, recipes from the heart, colours and flavours that leap out of the pages … and photographs that tantalise the tastebuds! Even if I don’t cook / bake out of it, it keeps me strangely satisfied!Ottolenghis Focaccia I weighed the ingredients, added the water … and took a double take! This was just the starter, or a preferment! There was going to be LOTS of bread! For some reason the elder teen rejects bread these days because of her diet, cutting back carbs etc, yet the rainy weather had me in a bread baking frame of mind!! I wanted to bake real bread, slow bread … not a quick, non yeast bread!Ottolenghis Focaccia Thankfully the trusted Thermomix is always at hand and takes the work out of kneading. There was plenty of rising to happen. First the preferment, then the 1st rise, then some folding {almost like rough puff pastry}, then some more rise. All this folding and rising resulted in a delightfully nice dough… and in turn, a delightfully nice bread!Ottolenghis Focaccia I baked half on day one and punched down the other half and refrigerated it for day two. NICE!! It was even better the next day with a third slow rise in the fridge … and ‘bubbly and squeaky‘ as Dorie Greenspan would call it! It’s a beautiful dough to have in the fridge. Both days the bread didn’t last long… quite an addictive bake!Ottolenghis Focaccia Even the dieting diva loved it and couldn’t stop nibbling. It’s no nice and chewy she declared! That’s the beauty of Ottolenghis recipes…they ALWAYS deliver. The kids had focaccia sandwiches for dinner that night with chicken salami, homemade pesto and mozzarella. The verdict – ♥♥♥!Ottolenghis FocacciaThe dehydrated tomatoes from Fab India were SO disappointing; I’m not going back there in a hurry! On the other hand, the queen olives stuffed with pimento from Leonardo are absolute winners. That jar’s not safe once it’s open … you cannot keep away from it … delectable! So is the Leonardo Gold Olive Oil that I slathered on top … it just made the bread sing!!Ottolenghis FocacciaIt’s a bread I am going to make often. I like that it baked even better the next day, so maybe the next time I leave it in the fridge for a slow overnight rise. Bread baking days are here again … and I’m loving it!! I am also excited as I have a sourdough starter from Sangeeta on my counter {it’s alive and bubbling I think} and I can see more bread in the coming days!

Other recipes from Ottolenghi on PAB

Ricotta and Spinach Roulade
Dried Cranberry & Walnut Bread
Chargrilled Broccoli Salad
Carrot Walnut Cake with Mascarpone Frosting
Olive Oil Crackers
Preserved Limes
Milled Nut Flour Macarons with Dark Chocolate Ganache
Individual Cherry & Plum Clafoutis

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Summary: Bursting with flavour, chewy focaccia with great flavour and texture. Another winner from Ottolenghi {minimally adpted from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook}

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes {plus rising time}

  • Dough
  • 330g plain flour
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, sliced {can reduce if you like}
  • 50g pitted queen olives with pimento {I use Leonardo}
  • Fresh basil, black olives, sundried tomatoes
  • Starter
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dried yeast
  • 420ml luke warm water
  • 300g plain flour
  • 30g vital gluten


  1. Starter/Preferment
  2. For the starter put the yeast and water in a large mixing bowl and stir until the yeast dissolves. Add the flour and stir until there is a porridge like consistency. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave somewhere warm for about an hour until it has doubled in size. {will take longer in winter}.
  3. Thermomix: Place starter ingredients in bowl of TM, mix at Speed 6 for 30seconds. Cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size.
  4. Dough
  5. Mix the starter with the flour, sugar and olive oil. Knead for about six minutes, then add the salt and knead further until the salt is mixed through.
  6. Thermomix: Place starter and remaining dough ingredients in bowl of TM, mix at Speed 6 for 30seconds, then knead for 4 minutes.
  7. Brush a large bowl with oil, place the dough in it and brush the surface of the dough with more oil. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place for one hour or until the dough has again doubled in size.
  8. Turn the dough on to a floured bench and stretch and flatten it into a rectangle. Take one of the short ends of the rectangle and fold it into the centre, take the other end and fold it over the first one to form three layers of dough.{I added olives and lots of garlic into the layers too}
  9. Brush a heavy baking tray {around 30cm x 40cm} with oil. Lift the dough on to the tray and flatten it by pressing hard with your hands. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for another hour. During this time check on the dough a couple of times and press it down, spreading it to the edges of the tray.
  10. Preheat the oven to 220C. Press the olives and rosemary into the top of the focaccia and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in the oven for 10 mins and then reduce the heat to 190C and continue for 15-20 mins or until golden. When it is out of the oven and still hot brush with plenty of olive oil.


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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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