Oooh bread, you wonderful thing! It’s been a while but I put my baker’s hat on this morning and finally got round to working on a little tutorial on how to bake a super tasty and easy to make bread: focaccia. Brownie points from the husband as this is one of his favourite types of bread.
Perfect for beginner bakers, this oven-baked flat bread is incredibly popular in Italy and is generally sold in bakeries as a snack (needless to say, Italians are not scared of carbs – yay!) or served as a nibble during aperitif hour (basically, drinks after work!) in bars.
In my personal experience, it just works with everything: it’s delicious as it is, with soups and salads, used for sandwiches, toasties and burgers, cheese on toast on lazy days, dipped in hummus…
Plus once you have mastered the basic recipe below, the options when it comes to toppings are endless (speaking of which, you can find a list of some of my favourites right at the end of this post). The only advice I’d like to give regarding toppings is – keep it simple. The olive oil and the sea salt give the focaccia its distinctive flavour so one or two toppings at most are more than enough.
So, without further ado, let’s make Dr Atkins spin in his grave, shall we?
600g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
400ml of warm water
2 tsp of instant yeast (I used Allinson Easy Bake Yeast)
1 tsp of sea salt
3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1/2 tsp of coarse sea salt
1 tbsp of fresh chopped rosemary
Measure all your ingredients.
In a jug, mix the yeast into the water and leave for 5 minutes.
Add the salt and oil to the flour and give it a good stir using a wooden spoon. You can also use an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook but, seriously, this dough is so easy to work, kneading by hand than is quicker than setting up the mixer.
Add approximately half of the water and yeast mixture and keep stirring.
Add the remaining water and yeast mixture. Keep mixing in the bowl until it all starts coming together.
At this stage the dough is going to be very sticky so make sure your hands are dusted with flour then transfer the dough onto a surface that has also been lightly floured.
Work the dough using the heels of your hands for approximately 5 minutes until you have a smooth, springy dough.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large bowl and roll the ball of dough around in the oil to stop it from sticking while it rises.
Cover the bowl with cling film (or a shower cap like I did, it works a treat!) and place in warm room for at least an hour until the dough has roughly doubled in size.
Using your hands, lightly oil the bottom of a rectangular baking tray.
Place your dough into the tray and spread evenly. Cover again and let it rise for another 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Create the classic focaccia dimples by lightly pressing your thumb into the dough. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and chopped fresh rosemary.
If you fancy adding additional toppings (you can find some of my favourite at the bottom of this post!) this is the time to pop them on.
Bake for 25-35 minutes until golden brown.
- This focaccia freezes extremely well, allowing you to make up a big batch and enjoy the homemade goodness whenever you want to. To freeze, simply let the focaccia cool completely, divide into smaller portion if needed and freeze in a sealed bag for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature when required.
Focaccia topping ideas
So do you fancy giving this a go? Here are some of my favourite focaccia toppings you can pick and mix…
– Fresh tomatoes
– Red onions
– Thinly sliced sautéed potatoes
– Sun dried tomatoes
– Grilled courgettes
– Roasted peppers
– Homemade pesto
– Marinated artichokes
– Sautéed asparagus
– Grilled aubergines
– Sautéed mushrooms with garlic and parsley
– Vegetarian parmesan
– Strong cheddar