Thursday, 25 August 2011

Focaccia Bread with Onion and Balsamic Topping

Recipe Number Eighty:  Page 294

This recipe won the vote on my Facebook page yesterday; I sense that something savoury is seen as a welcome change. Savoury recipes are few and far between in the Baking Bible. I would imagine around ninety five per cent are sweet – much to my dentist’s delight! Although this was my first attempt at making a focaccia, I have had a long love affair with Marks and Spencer’s roasted vegetable focaccia slice! With this in mind, I was very keen to get cracking with this recipe. I hoped mine would be just as tasty.

In a moment of weakness I decided to start making this whilst my14 month old boy was on the loose. I thought it would be nice for him to see me making up the bread dough, but he was too busy getting into mischief to give two hoots what Mummy was doing! I had one beady eye on Isaac while the other was trying to follow the recipe!

I added the strong flour to my large mixing bowl, followed by semolina. It seemed a little odd adding semolina. I would never have thought of using it in bread. It just shows how much I am learning! Next was the surprisingly difficult task of locating a sachet of yeast. Neil had mentioned that there was in fact a whole box of yeast sachets. I hunted high and low but no sign of the stuff. As I am a little vertically challenged I needed the help of a chair. With the extra height advantage, I found just one loose, dusty packet of yeast hiding on a top shelf, hallelujah! The yeast (which was still in date) went into the bowl, swiftly followed by a little bit of olive oil and some warm water. Now all of my ingredients were in the bowl, I was ready to mix them all together. The dough was so easy to work with. It came together in moments and I was able to place it on my worktop and knead it, only requiring a light dusting of flour. Unfortunately, I had to abandon my kneading half way through as Isaac had opened a drawer and was merrily pulling things out! I picked him up with doughy hands and distracted him with a cornflake box! Once I was able to complete my kneading, I placed the perfectly smooth dough into a well oiled bowl, covered it over with Clingfilm and put it somewhere warm to rise. Meanwhile, I got on with making the onion topping.

Thankfully, Neil was by now home and able to look after the little rascal, so I got on with the topping in almost peace! I hate slicing up onions; it is a smelly job and it always ends in tears! It is funny as, although I hate chopping them, I adore eating them. With streaming red eyes I added the relatively thinly sliced onions to the frying pan along with a glug of oil. I put the lid on and left them to cook for around 20 minutes over a low heat. When the onions were all lovely and soft I poured in a tiny amount of balsamic vinegar and sugar and stir-fried for several more minutes before turning off the heat. I left the lid off the saucepan to allow the onions to cool down and went to retrieve my dough from its warm place. I had a bit of a shock when I saw the dough– it was HUGE! It was most satisfying knocking it down and watching the air puff out of it! I really enjoyed kneading it again, but my arms did ache a little by the time I'd finished. I rolled the dough out into a large rectangle and placed it onto a lined baking tray. By now the onions were cold, so I was able to spread the sticky onions on top. The dough needed to prove again for another half an hour before it went into the oven to be cooked. This time I had to put the baking tray inside a plastic bag; easier said than done! I preheated the oven while I waited for the dough to rise. The dough had almost doubled in size by the time it went into the oven; it already looked good enough to eat! While the focaccia cooked, I dashed upstairs and gave the bathroom a quick scrub; I didn't have long so it was a rushed job! I raced back down the stairs and found that the focaccia was a little over done around the edges, but it still looked pretty good. I heated up some tomato soup and then presented Neil with the fruits of my labour. He couldn't get over the sheer size of the focaccia! I cut the enormous bread in half and we shared a half between us. Oh my goodness me, it was lovely! I wolfed my share down and I couldn't resist having some more! I had been worried that the bread hadn't cooked through in the middle but I shouldn't have as it was just right. The topping was heavenly. The combination of onions and balsamic vinegar is surely unbeatable? No doubt I will make this again - no need to buy focaccia any more!
My rather large Focaccia!
Yummy with a bowl of soup :-)


  1. Ny favourite bread, all will be apparent next wed !!! XXX

  2. Ooooh, exciting Jo! Can't wait!! xxx

  3. That's looks so tempting. You can't beat homemade bread :o)

  4. Hiya, Anneliese, well I've managed to become a follower of your blog, that's a major achievement for me as I'm no techno wizz kid. Of course I've been reading it all the time but this is the first time I've managed a comment. Thank you for the foccacia, at last a savoury winner of your poll. Looking forward to a slice of the coffee cake. I'm now going to research how to set up my own blog xxxxDor

  5. Thank you Nina and Nicola - it was so tasty and I agree - you can't beat homemade bread :-)

    Yay, hello Dor! Thank you for officially becoming a follower of my blog! Well done for setting yourself up on here and good luck with your blog, can't wait to become a follower!! xxx