This week’s recipe is brought to you by Joanne Campbell, HR Manager by day, entrepreneur, and amazing cook by night! She is also part owner of The Country Kitchen a home-based catering company in Chaguanas that was born in the pandemic 2020. Joanne says their motto is “made with love and tradition” and she believes that they capture the essence of West Indian cuisine.
School is out!
Focaccia is the epitome of summer and focaccia bread art is the new trend using fresh vegetables and herbs to make beautiful edible art with the kids. Compared to toast and croissants, focaccia has a greater satiating power. It does not contain simple sugars like sucrose, the classic white sugar, which promotes blood glucose spikes. Rather, focaccia provides complex carbohydrates that slowly gives the body energy and helps to better regulate blood sugar levels.
Another advantage of focaccia is that it is made with extra-virgin olive oil, which is full of ‘good’ fats, as opposed to lard, butter or palm oil found in commercially baked goods. These can contain hydrogenated fats, and when consumed in excess, favour a rise in levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Start off with this easy focaccia bread recipe. I usually mix the dough the night before I plan to bake it. The long proof in the fridge gives it flavour and a lovely chewy interior with a thin and crispy crust.
Day 1— I mix the focaccia dough and set it aside to bulk ferment (rise) the evening before in a warm area (70ºF). Because of the large amount of olive oil, it takes approximately 2-3 hours to set. N.B: The warmer it is, the faster the dough will rise.
Stretch the dough onto the pan and place in refrigerator.
Day 2 – Take your focaccia out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. You want the dough to be nice and bubbly before you start decorating so that the dough doesn’t envelop your veggies. I like to prep my toppings while the focaccia is warming up.
Here is the soothing and fun part! Using your fingertips, dimple the top of your focaccia and add the olive oil and flakey salt. Now you’re ready to decorate! Go crazy! Have fun!!
Ingredients 1 ½ cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar 1 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
¼ cup olive oil 1 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon flakey salt
3 ½ cups flour
1/4 cup olive oil Vegetables & herbs for topping
1. Combine 1 cup warm water with yeast and sugar and mix to combine.
2. Set it aside for about 5 minutes until foamy.
3. Add water/yeast mixture in bowl. Add in about one cup of flour and mix until combined.
4. Add rest of water, olive oil and salt and half of remaining flour. Mix until combined.
5. Continue adding in your flour while mixing until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. (If it’s still too sticky, add in a couple more tablespoons of flour until it comes together. The dough will be very soft.)
6. Place your dough into a bowl with about a tablespoon of olive oil.
7. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
8. Transfer to pan and begin stretching it. If it shrinks back, give it 15 minutes to let the gluten relax before you stretch again.
9. Cover dough with plastic wrap and place it into the fridge overnight to develop flavour.
10. When you’re ready to bake your bread, remove from fridge and let it warm up for about 30 minutes. Dimple the surface with your fingers.
11. Drizzle a good amount olive oil onto the top of the bread until all the dimples have a little oil in them. Sprinkle flakey salt on top.
12. After your focaccia has risen for 30 minutes, decorate the top any way you like with veggies, herbs and meats.
13. Bake in the oven at 450ºF for 20-25 minutes or until the focaccia bread is nice and golden.