Friday, 16 May 2014

Herbed Oatmeal Focaccia with Olives and Feta Cheese

Cooking Indian food can sometimes become a little monotonous with the same vegetables being available in the market and not much variation possible without onion and garlic. So I decided to take a break from the regular food and make this easy yet gorgeous Focaccia to serve with my healthy yet yummy Broccoli Soup. My bakes are usually accompanied by some experiment and today it was with oatmeal flour, homemade. Nothing fancy though, the use of oatmeal rather than the usual wholewheat flour lends a different texture to the bread, which is quite close to a white bread, unlike the more dense wholewheat bread. And after all the effort of making this beautiful Focaccia, I could not even grab a whole piece. So yummy it was, the whole Focaccia was gobbled up by my baby, hubby, and Father-in-Law! I guess next time I should reserve a piece for myself first before serving to the rest! :)

1 1/2 cup bread flour (all purpose flour can be used as well)
1 cup oatmeal flour (dry roast quick cooking/rolled oats and grind to a fine powder; optionally, you can seive the flour before using)
1 1/2 tsp instant active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp garlic salt (I used regular as I have to make it sans garlic)
2 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
180 ml warm water
50 ml warm milk (can add or reduce as per requirement during kneading)
2 tbsp olive oil (I used a spiced olive oil from the Feta cheese can)
2 tbsp steak seasoning or any Italian seasoning of your choice
Few slices of olives 
2 tbsp freshly chopped dill or any herb of your choice

For the Topping
A handful of Feta cheese cubes
A handful of sliced olives 
4-5 cherry tomatoes sliced
Italian seasoning for sprinkling
Dry grated parmesan cheese

In a bowl, mix the warm water and sugar and dissolve the yeast. Let it stand for 10 minutes until foamy.
Now in another bowl, take the oatmeal flour, salt, steak seasoning, grated parmesan, fresh herbs and mix well. Now add the yeast mixture and mix everything well till a clayey mix is formed without any lumps. Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes until slightly bubbled and foamy. This is the sponge or biga. 
Now add the cornflour and the flour little at a time. Add the oil and the milk little at a time and start kneading the dough. Do not be anxious to add extra flour or oil to do away with the stickiness. Add the few olive slices and continue kneading and you will get a smooth and silky dough in about 5-10 minutes. However, be sure not to knead a dry dough. It should be smooth and elastic non sticky dough at the end of the kneading process. Now lightly oil the dough and cover with a clingwrap and keep in a warm place for the dough to rise, about 1-2 hours.
Take the dough out and punch it down. Place the dough on a parchment paper ir greased surface and roll out a circle of about 1/2 inch thickness. Place it on a greased or lined baking dish and keep covered in a warm place for the second proofing, about 45 mins to 1 hour. 
Towards the end of the proofing period pre-heat the oven at 200 degree celsius for 20 minutes. Take the dough out and brush the top with olive oil. Make indentations all over the top in a uniform pattern keeping a 1 inch space in between. Now place the sliced tomatoes, feta cheese cubes, and sliced olives and sprinkle the seasoning and the cheese. 
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20-30 minutes until golden on top. Towards the end I changed the oven mode to top only for a deeper browning.

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