Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sun-dried Tomato Focaccia

My newly acquired cookbook, Good to the Grain is providing lots of fodder for kitchen experiments.  One of my faults in cooking is that I rarely follow a recipe exactly, even the first time I try it, and the focaccia made with spelt flour was no different. I followed the flour proportions, but since I had a couple of old dried sun-dried tomatoes lying about that I wanted to use, I incorporated them into the bread as well, and I used the soaking water in the starter.

I am noticing with a number of recipes in this cookbook that the amount of salt required is too high, at least for my kind of salt and my taste. The author, Kim Boyce, always specifies kosher salt, which is really just coarse salt. The brand she uses is Diamond Crystal, which is less salty than Morton's. Since neither of these brands is available in Amsterdam, I just use coarse sea salt. Either this salt is much saltier than her brand, or my taste buds are accustomed to much less salt. Either way, I am now halving all her recommendations for salt, and that is yielding much better results.

Rather than baking one large bread, I divided the dough into 3 after the first rise, reserving 2/3 of the dough in the fridge for future baking.

Sun-Dried Tomato Focaccia

Yield: 3 9-inch round loaves
Source: adapted from Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce

This produces a flavourful bread with a nice bottom crust. I think the left-over would make excellet bread for panzanella.


2 sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 boiling water

2 teaspoons yeast
pinch of sugar
1 cup warm water

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teasoon salt

2-4 tablespoons olive oil for greasing the pan


  1. Soak the tomatoes in boiling water for half an hour until soft and the water cooled down to lukewarm.
  2. Reserve the soaking water and chop the softened tomatoes into small pieces, about the size of currents.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the yeast, sugar, warm water, and reserved tomato water. Let stand 5 minutes until the yeast begins to bloom.
  4. Stir in the olive oil, salt, and flours. Beat vigorously and then turn out onto a floured surface. The dough will be quite soft.
  5. Knead for about 10 minutes, adding up to 1/2 cup of flour to keep the dough from sticking.
  6. Grease the mixing bowl with some olive oil, turn the dough into it and turn it so the whole ball gets covered with oil. Cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm spot to rise until doubled (about 2 hours).
  7. Generously grease 3 9-inch cake tins with olive oil. 
  8. Punch down the dough and gently fold in the chopped soaked tomatoes. Divide the dough into 3 pieces. Using your finger, spread the dough into the cake tins to form round flat loaves. Dimple them with your finger. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for another hour.
  9. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake the breads for 22-25 minutes. Let the bread cool slightly before serving. 

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