Italian Hearth Bread with Black Olives and Rosemary

Focaccia and schiacciata are both names for the flat, Italian hearth bread of which there are many varieties, but they all have one thing in common — the wonderful taste of fruity extra virgin olive oil and salt. It is best eaten warm.

Ingredients

  • 375 g (12 oz) strong unbleached four
  • 1 sachet fast-action easy-blend dried yeast
  • 4–5 teaspoons crushed sea salt
  • Leaves from 1 large sprig fresh rosemary, chopped finely
  • 175–250 ml (6–8 fl oz) water
  • 5–6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 40–50 g (1½–2 oz) black olives, stoned and chopped roughly

Method

Lightly grease a large pizza tin or baking sheet. Put the flour in a large bowl with the yeast, 2 teaspoons crushed sea salt and all but 1 teaspoon of the rosemary leaves. Stir with a wooden spoon, then pour in the water and 3 tablespoons olive oil, adding enough liquid to form a slightly sticky, soft dough. Knead on a very light ly floured surface for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Form the dough into a ball, and then press out with your hand into a rough circle, about 25-28 cm (10-11 in) in diameter and 1 cm (½ in) thick – the surface should be slightly undulating.

Carefully transfer the circle of dough to the prepared tin or sheet. Using a wooden salad fork, prick the surface deeply all over. Put the tin inside a large plastic bag and fold the bag under the tin, trapping plenty of air, so that the bag is puffed up well above the bread. Leave at room temperature for 1—2 hours until the dough has doubled in thickness.

Using a finger, press the pieces of olive slightly down into the dough at intervals, then trickle the remaining 2-3 tablespoons olive oil over the bread, spreading it very lightly with your fingers to cover the surface completely, but leaving it to sit in pools in the dips. Finally sprinkle with the reserved chopped rosemary and remaining crushed sea salt. Bake at 220°C, 425°F, Gas Mark 7 for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

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