I am a great fan of the slow rise, no-knead bread that takes all day or more to prepare and cook. Not that there is much to do to the bread dough during that time, but sometimes, just sometimes, all that fore planning, well, you know…. you just want bread NOW. Fresh. Hot. Just out of the oven.
Well, it is possible.
This is another of the recipes I have made for many many years. It makes a great central piece to a Sunday lunch with friends or a Sunday dinner in front of the TV. We mostly make it flat, stretching the dough out to fit our pan, but it can be cooked as a small loaf, as you see from the pics.
I bring them to the table just out of the oven, two flat focaccia steaming and smelling of that wonderful just baked bread smell, sitting on a large bread board, placed in the centre of the table.
The bread, sitting in the middle of the table, can be sliced, or cut into wedges or chunks, or if you cook it really really thin, allow people to tear off a piece to dunk into their food.
Serve the focaccia with a bowl of home made soup.
Serve with a wonderful, filling salad with delicious juices that ooze over the plate and just ask to be soaked up by some hot fresh bread.
Serve surrounded by wonderful bread-toppings. Hummus. Home made strawberry jam. Olives. Thin slices of tomato. Fresh ricotta. Orange blossom honey. Pesto. Dukkah and fine olive oil. Roasted Red Pepper Dip. Cucumber. Lettuce and rocket and other fresh greens. Sultanas. Sliced banana. Baked Tuscan Beans. Oozey, goo-ey cheese. Char grilled eggplant slices. Chunks of roasted pumpkin and sweet potato. Oven baked tomatoes.
This is a “one-meal bread“. It doesn’t keep all that long. The next day it is likely to be a bit too hard for eating fresh, so slice it and grill it on the char-grill pan or under the griller. Smother with real butter and thin slices of cheese so that they melt over the hot bread.
My Deliciously Fast No Knead Focaccia
Source : I have had this recipe for years and have forgotten the source
Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins + 1 hour rising time
Serves: 4 – 6 people, depending how you use it
3.5 cups pizza, focaccia or strong bread flour, or flour to which you add 5 Tblspn gluten
1.5 cups approx of tepid water
1 tspn sugar
[Optional step] Mix the sugar, 0.5 cup lukewarm water and the yeast with 1 Tblspn of the flour, making a sponge, and let sit in a warm place for 15 minutes.
Mix the flour, yeast sponge and enough of the remaining water to make a sticky dough, or if you haven’t made the sponge, mix the yeast, water, sugar and flour together to make a sticky dough. Add additional water if you need it. The dough should be a little wetter than you would normally make dough.
Leave the dough to rise for 1 – 1.5 hours. Flour your bench and flour the oven trays or line them with baking paper. Flour the baking paper too.
Prepare to remove the dough from the bowl. Flour the top of the dough, and, as it is lifted from the bottom of the bowl, dust a little flour there too. The dough is quite sticky so it helps as you work remove the dough.
Place the risen dough on a bench and divide into two. Shape each on a tray with well oiled fingertips.
Brush the top with olive oil and top with your choice of topping – herbs, rosemary, garlic, salt, black pepper, olive paste, slices of olives, cheese and paprika, or any topping you like (or none). Bake in the oven at the maximum temperature around 10 – 15 minutes, or until cooked and lightly browned.
Eat while still warm.
The photos show focaccia made from a mixture of rye and wholemeal multigrain bread flour mixed together with extra gluten.
There was a question from a reader about the use of plain (all purpose) flour without the addition of gluten and so we experimented with only plain flour. The result was quite a tough bread – gluten gives the bread the strength to hold up the air within the dough. So we don’t recommend using only plain flour – either add gluten to it or use a bread flour.
It can be made as thin focaccia or thicker, as shown in the photos.
Top the focaccia with sea salt, and/or use herbs, z’aatar or chopped olives. This time I topped with a mixture of home-dried rosemary ground together with oven baked capsicums and a little bit of dried mushroom, along with the salt. It was delicious.
One of the nice things about this recipe is that it can be cooked while the guests have their first pre-lunch glass of wine. Impress them with the smell of freshly baking bread, and it will be ready by the time their wine glass is empty.
UPDATE in 2018
2018: After 10 years we still make this bread, preferring it flat and thin as you see in the pic with chickpeas. For ease these days, we put the flour and salt into our food processor with a dough blade, pulse a few times to mix, then add the yeast-sugar-flour sponge slowly while the machine runs, then add the remaining water. Running the machine for 1.5 – 2 mins brings the dough to a wonderful, wet and sticky consistency, which is just what we want. Flour your hands well before removing it from the food processor! Then allow to rise, and cook as the recipe indicates.