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Serves: 8 to 10; Makes one 10 inch focaccia

2.5 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp water, room temperature
1/2 cup mild tasting extra virgin olive oil
500g unbleached plain flour
1.5 tsp sea salt

2 to 3 Tbsp light extra virgin olive oil
1 large bunch fresh basil, about 1.5 to 2 cups tighly packed
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Whisk the yeast into the warm water in a large bowl; let stand
until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the room-temperature water
and the oil. If you are making the dough by hand, combine the
flour and the salt, add them in 2 additions, and mix until the
dough comes together well. Knead on a lightly floured surface for
4 to 5 minutes, let the dough rest briefly, and finish kneading
for another minute or two. The dough will be soft and as delicate
as an ear lobe.

If you are using a heavy-duty electric mixer, use the paddle
attachment to mix the flour and salt into the yeast mixture until
they form a dough. Change to the dough hook and knead for 2 to 3
minutes, or until the dough is as tender as an ear lobe.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover it tightly with
plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour to 1 hour
and 15 minutes.

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface and roll it
with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 12 x 18 inch rectangle
that is about 1/4 inch thick. The dough will roll out easily and
repair easily, if it should tear. To fill, paint the 2 to 3
tablespoons of olive oil over the top of the dough - be sure to
brush it thoroughly, even liberally - and then cover the surface
with a thick carpet of basil leaves. Roll up the dough from the
long end, like a jelly roll. Oil a 10 x 4 inch angel-food tube
pan very well and slip the dough into it, seam side down. Don't
be concerned if the 2 ends of the roll don't touch; they will after
the second rise. Cover the dough with a towel and let rise until
doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Baking: At least 30 minutes
before you plan to bake, preheat the oven to 200C/400F with a baking
stone inside, if you have one. Brush the top of the "sfoglierata"
with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the pan directly on the
stone and bake until golden, about 40 minutes. Let cool for 15 or
20 minutes, then slide the blade of a long thin knife or spatula
between the "sfoglierata" and the pan sides and the center tube to
loosen it. Place on a rack. Serve warm.

NOTES: When you cannot get your hands on fresh basil leaves, you
can use pesto as a filling ... just make sure that the filling is
not too liquid or it will create a mess as you roll up the focaccia.
It is delicious with pesto inside. I use pesto without the cheese
added. I think a filling of olive pesto/pate or artichoke pate
would be good too.


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