Potato and Rosemary Focaccia
The potatoes form a delicious crispy topping on this foccacia.
1 x white yeast bread dough (see recipe)
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) chopped rosemary (or thyme leaves), optional
waxy potatoes, boiled until almost cooked, peeled and thinly sliced
175-225g (6-8oz) Fontina cheese
extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
28 x 40cm (11 x 16 inch) baking tray
Make the dough, knead well and allow to rise until well doubled in size. “Knock back” and allow to rest for 4 or 5 minutes.
Sprinkle the base of the rectangle baking tray with chopped rosemary or thyme.
Roll the dough into a rectangle. Lay the dough on top of the baking tray.
Dimple with your fingertips. Brush with extra virgin olive oil.
Cover with thin slices of Fontina cheese.
Season the slices of potato well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Arrange in overlapping slices over the dough and cheese. Sprinkle with rosemary and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
Bake in a preheated oven 230ºC / 450ºF / Gas Mark 8 for 20-25 minutes or until the base is crusty and the potatoes are beginning to crisp.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and eat warm.
Ballymaloe White Yeast Bread
The bread that was made in my home was always soda bread, so it wasn’t until I went to school in Cathal Brugha Street in Dublin that I learned the skill of making white yeast bread. Later I brought it to Ballymaloe House and they’ve been making it there ever since. This dough can be used to make rolls, loaves, breadsticks and all manner of bread shapes.
Makes 2 x 450g (1lb) loaves
425ml (3⁄4 pint (scant 2 cups) lukewarm water
20g (3⁄4oz) fresh yeast
700g (1 1⁄2lb (4 1/3 level cups) strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons salt
10g (1⁄2oz) sugar
25g (1oz/1/4 stick) butter
egg wash and poppy or sesame seeds for topping (optional)
2 x loaf tins 12.5cm (5in) x 20cm (8in)
Put 150ml (1⁄4 pint/generous 1/2 cup) of tepid water into a Pyrex measure. Crumble in the fresh yeast and leave in a warm place for about 2–3 minutes. Sieve together the flour, salt and sugar in a large, wide mixing bowl. Then rub in the butter and make a well in the centre. Pour in the yeast mixture and most of the remaining lukewarm water. Mix to a loose dough, adding the remaining water or a little extra flour as needed.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, cover and leave to relax for about 5 minutes. Then knead for about 10 minutes or until smooth, springy and elastic (if kneading in a food mixer with a dough hook, 5 minutes is usually long enough). Put the dough into a large bowl and cover the top tightly with clingfilm. Yeast dough rises best in a warm moist atmosphere; 27°C (80.5°F) is optimum, but a slower rising is preferable to one that is too fast.
After about 1 1⁄2–2 hours, when the dough has more than doubled in size, knock it back lightly. Shape the bread into loaves, plaits (see below) or rolls, then transfer to a baking tray and cover with a light tea towel. Leave to rise again in a warm place, until the shaped dough has again doubled in size (about 20–30 minutes).
Preheat the oven to 230°C / 450°F / Gas Mark 8.
The bread is ready for baking when a small dent remains if the dough is pressed lightly with the finger. Spray with a water mister and dust with flour for a rustic looking loaf and slash with a blade. Alternatively brush with egg wash and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds for a more golden crust.
The bread will rise a little further when it goes into the oven – this is called ‘oven-spring’. Bake for 25–35 minutes, depending on size. When baked, the bread should sound hollow if tapped underneath. Leave to cool on a wire rack.