Bread and Better

Bread and Better

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Tomato and Cheddar Focaccia

When I was at catering college (which was a 4 hour round trip, by public transport, to Didsbury) I would often miss my connecting train on the way home. Having only eaten sickly sweet cakes all day, I would crave something refreshingly savoury. Train station caf├ęs aren't known for groundbreaking gormet food, but their offerings would just hit the spot on my long journey home. A cheese and tomato baguette was usually my treat of choice, nothing particularly special, but feeling hungry, tired and covered in flour, it was often the best thing I ate all day.
  This focaccia is sort of like a homage to that sandwhich. The sweet freshness of the tomatoes really balance out the rich creamy-ness of the cheese. Serve with a lentil salad for an easy summer tea.

Makes 1 medium focaccia, will serve about 4-8 people (depending on how greedy you are).

For the focaccia:
450g strong white flour
7g dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
350ml water
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the topping:
3 small tomatoes (if using cherry, you might need a few more).
100g cheddar, grated
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Olive oil for greasing.

Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the salt, oil and water (remembering not to add all the water at once), and mix to form a dough.
Tip the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for around 10 minutes, or until the dough feels smooth and elastic.
When the dough is ready, place it back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for at least an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, place it into a greased baking tray (or a 10 inch cake tin, like I used).
Cover again, and leave to rise for about half an hour, or until it has noticeably puffed up.
Whilst you are waiting for the focaccia to rise, slice the tomatoes into thin rounds and then sprinkle the leaves from the thyme over them.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
When the loaf has risen, make large indents in the surface with your knuckles and then sprinkle over the grated cheese.
Arrange the tomatoes over the cheese and then sprinkle over the sea salt, leaves from the rosemary and finally the olive oil.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has gone a deep golden brown.
Cool a little in the tin before serving.

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