N’duja Focaccia

One of my favourite places to take brunch these days is Salon in Brixton Village. I hear they do a cracking evening service but, well, brunch is where my heart is, and after a tough session at the gym, the likes of nduja strewn scrambled eggs on toast is just the thing. An nduja pain perdou was a stroke of genius and, as you can imagine, right up my street.

The setting is as pretty as a provincial picture; a well stocked bar dominates a room filled with wooden furniture, dusky blue walls, old bottles and dried flowers. I love that seating is upstairs, on a slightly wonky floor, above the bustle of the market, an airy room that matches the external eclectic chaos with an equally boisterous, if middle class, brunching crowd. Best spot in the house is at the far end of the room, next to the window for people and market peering.

They often declare of a weekend morning their ‘special’; one of nduja focaccia with roasted tomatoes speaks strongly to me often, but never at a time I’ve been available to catch it. Until I do, I’ve stolen the idea myself and rather than a focaccia stuffed with chunks of the spicy Calabrian sausage, as I assume they do, I’ve mixed swirls of the paste-like version into the dough itself. Fiery ribbons and seams of chilli strewn sausage paste that licks the dough with it’s orange tongue.

My first instinct was to serve with roasted tomatoes, sweet and blistered, a soft mozzarella and some smoky prosciutto. I ate it again for brunch the following day as a beast of a sandwich, filled with more roasted tomatoes, smashed avocado and an nduja fried egg. Oooof.

It’s definitely a recipe I’ll be making again.

Focaccia is a super quick and simple bread to make, this time I followed Paul Hollywood’s recipe as it was one of the first to pop up in Google, but it’s much the same as recipes I’ve used in the past with success.

For the Focaccia

40g olive oil plus extra

250g strong white bread flour

180g chilled water

5g salt

1 sachet fast action yeast

Fresh Rosemary

nduja paste – I use one from M&S’ foreign grocery section that comes in a small jar

sea salt

Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the yeast to one side and salt to the other.

Add the olive oil and then water slowly to incorporate all of the dough until you have a fairly wet, rough dough.

Lightly oil a work surface, turn the dough out and knead for 5-10 minutes until it starts to become smooth and elastic. It should still be quite wet and sticky so don’t panic and add lots of flour, just keep scraping down and cleaning your hands.

Once it has a smooth consistency, push a dip into the centre and dot a good tablespoon of nduja onto the top. Fold the corners of the dough roughly back into the centre, then repeat once more so the nduja starts to become ripples throughout the dough, but gently and stop before you get a completely orange mess! Pick it up gently and place into an oiled bowl, fold side facing down.

Cover and leave for 1 hour until doubled in size.

Oil a baking tray. Lift the dough carefully out of the bowl and very gently stretch it out before placing onto the tray and pushing it into shape without letting too much of the air escape.

Cover and leave for another hour to let it rise again.

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees. Push deep dimples evenly apart into the surface of the dough, drizzle liberally with olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary and flaked sea salt then bake for around 15 minutes until the surface is golden and the bread sounds hollow when tapped.

Allow to cool before serving.

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