Nigel Slater's Green Olive & Thyme Focaccia

Bake your way to wonderfully salty, olive-filled bread with this recipe from the beloved British food writer's new book, 'A Cook's Book'

Enjoy fresh, homemade focaccia, courtesy of Britain's beloved food writer. Photo / Supplied

One for an early summer lunch — goat’s milk cheese in thick, chalky slices, magenta ribbons of pickled red cabbage, and this focaccia, torn into oily tufts.

Makes 1 large loaf

400ml warm water
2 tsp easy-bake dried yeast
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp caster sugar
2 Tbsp (optional) sourdough starter
500g strong white bread flour
6 Tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra for the baking tin
100g green or lemon-marinated olives, stoned
6 bushy sprigs thyme, leaves removed
Sea salt flakes
You will also need a high-sided baking tin, approximately 34cm × 24cm

1. Put the water and yeast into a large mixing bowl and add the salt and sugar. If you are including a little of your sourdough starter, do so now, stirring it into the water until dissolved. Mix in the flour either by hand or with a wooden spatula. Add 2 Tbsp of the olive oil and mix loosely into the dough. Cover the bowl with a cloth and refrigerate overnight. (The dough will need a good eight hours.)

2. Next day, when the dough will have risen to about twice its original size, chop the olives and the thyme leaves and mix them into the dough along with another 2 Tbsp of the oil. Lightly oil the baking tin and turn out the dough into the tin.

3. Push out the dough to fit the tin with your fist, gently pushing it almost into the corners — it will swell during the second proving — then wrap the tin in a cloth and place in a warm spot for a good hour, perhaps two, until it has risen to twice its size.

4. Set the oven at 220C. When the oven is ready, use a floured finger to push several hollows into the dough, then scatter the surface lightly with sea salt flakes and bake for 30 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven, pour the remaining oil over the surface, then release from its tin with a palette knife and serve.

Extracted with permission from A Cook’s Book, by Nigel Slater (HarperCollins, $60), due out in early November

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