Happy New Year folks!
So here we are in January again, the month of starting new resolutions, adopting ‘out with the old, in with the new’ philosophies and commencing new eating and exercise regimes. So yes, privately this is my mantra, and I am enjoying fresh green juices in the morning. However, publicly, I am urging you to try this delicious Focaccia with Blue Cheese and Parma Ham.
So you may be abstaining from alcohol, or chocolate, for the entire month, surely there is some room for this indulgent bread? Bear with me, there is some logic here. Whilst planning some meals earlier in the week (yes, really) I was de-cluttering my fridge of Holiday excesses, to make way for the green goodness to follow, I could not face binning the remaining blue cheese and Parma ham so decided to put it to good use. You could use any type of cheese or cured meat on this bread. Indeed, I used half and half wholemeal and white strong bread flour in attempt to use up remnants.
Focaccia has to be one of the easiest breads to make and is relatively quick. Just add the toppings towards the end of the bake and you have a hearty snack and a great soup accompaniment. An economic way (in frugal January) to use up leftovers, this is actually what we all need right now, tasty comfort food. It really is rather good…
- 500g strong white bread flour (or, strong wholemeal bread flour)
- 10g salt
- 7g fast acting yeast
- 400ml tepid water
- 3 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling and frying
- sea salt, for sprinkling
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 6 slices Parma ham (or, other cured meat)
- 125g blue cheese, crumbled (or, cheese of your choice)
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- In a large bowl, or the bowl of a freestanding mixer, add the flour, salt - to one side of the bowl and yeast - to the opposite side of the bowl. Add the water and oil and with a spoon, or the dough hook attachment fitted to the mixer, mix until a dough comes together. Cover with a tea towel, or food wrap and leave somewhere warm for about an hour.
- Prepare a baking tray, or tin, by lining with baking parchment.
- Tip the dough onto a lightly oiled work surface and knock the dough back. Place the dough onto the prepared tray and with your fingers, spread the dough out flat. Cover the dough with some lightly oiled food wrap, cover and again leave somewhere warm for about 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, lightly fry the onions in a little oil for a few minutes until softened. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool. Then, add the Parma ham to the pan to heat through and make it a little crispy. Again, set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C, or Gas Mark 6. Once proved, with your fingers, make dimples in the bread. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for approximately 18 minutes, turning the bake half way through.
- Remove from the oven and spread the onion over the dough evenly. Follow with the Parma ham and then the cheese. Return to the oven for approximately a further 3 minutes and bake until the cheese melts.
- Remove from the oven. Transfer to a wire rack for initial cooling. Tear the rosemary sprigs and garnish. Best served warm.
Source: Adapted from James Morton’s ‘Brilliant Bread’