when i make bread i make mess, its as simple as that. the messier it gets the more i enjoy it, and the more i enjoy it (in my mind anyways) the better it tastes. so here is my messy tasty tomato and feta focaccia.

bread takes a little time patience and practice. when you start you never really have a feel for what the dough should be like, but the thing is (as with most things…) the more you practice the more you learn to trust your gut. so… relax, let go and enjoy the process, and remember… you learn your best lessons from making mistakes.

to activate the yeast mix the water sugar and yeast in a cup and set aside until it goes creamy coloured, aprox 10 min. dump the flour onto a clean bench and blend the two kinds with your hands. you can do this in a bowl but i prefer to work it directly on the bench. make a well in the middle of your flour (i find it easier to make a bigger flatter mound of flour with shallow well, than a high mound of flour with deep well if you get my drift). carefully pour in the yeast mix bit at a time, scattering some of the flour over to start absorbing the liquid (decreasing the chance of it breaking free and ending up at your feet)
once you have all the liquid on the bench its time to dig in with your hands. gently start throwing flour into the well and mixing it together until it holds together. you want a fairly soft dough that you can easily kneed without it crumbling. i find wholemeal flours tend to bind the liquid more than white flours, so i usually add small amounts of water to the dough as i kneed, until i am happy with the texture. cover lightly with oil (i oil my hands then roll the dough around, its also great for the skin!) place in a bowl and leave in a warm place until it doubles in size which usually takes 30 – 45 min.
now its time to work up the flavour. add the fresh rosemary garlic sea salt and olive oil to your mortar and beat the structure out of it, completely crushing the garlic and bruising the rosemary.
when the dough is ready, beat it down and stretch it out to the desired shape. dig your fingers into it to make lots of little dimples and smother it with your oil mash. top with cherry tomatoes, crumble over the feta and finish with a good grind of black pepper. now its ready for the oven (make sure you preheat your oven before this step or you will burn the bottom) bake at 225 until it smells divine and the top is nicely browned, 15 – 20 minutes. enjoy!

bread dough
1 cup organic whole wheat flour
1 cup organic white flour
1 pack dried yeast (7.5 grams)
1 teaspoon of sugar
12 cup warm water (and a little extra standing by)

oil mash
2-3 tablespoons of the best olive oil you can find (i used one i picked up from super little olive grove b&b i stayed at the last time i was in florence)
3-4 stems of fresh rosemary
1 fat clove of garlic
fresh sea salt
fresh black pepper
mortar and pestle

ripe cherry tomatoes
crumbled salty feta