Good foccacia is springy and airy, and it's perfect picnic material, so I'll direct this towards the Weekenders. Or the river lovers. I have been reading Wind in the Willows to Saskia, and I completely love Kenneth Grahame's description of summer - and I do believe that Ratty, Mole and Toad (and perhaps even Badger if he could be persuaded away from the Wild Wood to the riverbank) would approve.
"Drowsy animals, snug in their holes while wind and rain were battering at their doors, recalled still keen mornings, an hour before sunrise, when the white mist, as yet undispersed, clung closely along the surface of the water; then the shock of the early plunge, the scamper along the bank, and the radiant transformation of the earth, air and water,when suddenly the sun was with them again, and grey was gold and colour was born and sprang out of the earth once more. They recalled the languorous siesta of hot mid-day, deep in the green undergrowth, the sun striking through in tiny golden shafts and spots; the boating and bathing of the afternoon, the rambles along dusty lanes and through yellow cornfields; and the long, cool evening at last, when so many threads were gathered up, so many friendships rounded, and so many adventures planned for the morrow"
So plan your adventure for the morrow and plan it with foccacia, for this substantial foccacia could actually be the star of the show.
2.5 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
200 ml warmed up milk
300 gms plain flour
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp white wine vinegar
150 gms marinated artichokes from a jar
A few sprigs of thyme
6 garlic cloves, skin on but bashed
Zest of 1 lemon
Pop the yeast, milk and sugar in a bowl and mix. Leave it for a few minutes for it to start frothing.
In a separate bowl, add the flour, olive oil, egg and a teaspoon of salt. Pour in the yeasty liquid and mix with your hands until you form a dough. It will be quite loose, don't panic! In a cup, stir the bicarb of soda and vinegar together - it'll give a satisfying fizz - pour it into the dough and mix well. Then put it into a shallow oiled tray and try to spread it as well as you can to the corners. Cover with a damp tea towel and put in a warm place to rise for an hour (my choice place is the hot cupboard).
Once doubled in size, drain the artichokes and mix in a bowl with the garlic, thyme and lemon zest and a drizzle of oil. Preheat the oven to 190C. Poke holes into the dough, drizzle over a bit of oil and then stick the filling into the dough. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25 - 30 minutes until lovely and golden.
Serve warm with salad and shandy.