I really don’t know why it took so long for us to bake focaccia. I mean, we both love Italian flavours as well as harbour unhealthy obsessions with bread, so focaccia should come naturally right?
I guess it all started about two years ago when we bought a ‘focaccia-styled bread premix’ (in those days of experimentation resulting in bricks of bread we woefully ate) from the supermarket. It was artificially flavoured with tomato and had a bland herby taste but we thought it was so incredible and so flavoursome that K brought some down to the cafe he worked at, ran by an Italian lady, to let her try it. And she said “this is not focaccia. Focaccia is oilier!”
That was kind of embarrassing, but fast forward two years, and now we’re proud of this truly, awesome, homemade (no more premixes!) oily, focaccia! It’s so simple to bake and fun to flavour, we’re wondering where homemade focaccia has been all our lives. An important thing to note is not to skimp on the olive oil- it is absolutely essential that it is glistening and the dimples of the bread are flooded with a generous amount of oil before baking the bread. It results in a good, golden crust and a chewy crumb. After baking, leave the focaccia in its tray to cool, so that it soaks up the rest of the oil. It sounds insane (like stodgy, greasy, dough???) but it’s not greasy at all but oh-so-moist and olive-oily (in a good way).
Classically, focaccia is simply flavoured with sprigs of rosemary, salt and olive oil. This version is made with basil, sun-dried tomatoes and black olives but do feel free to try out different variants and let us know how they turn out! Chillies, baby tomatoes, caramelised onions, thyme, and capers all sound fabulous on this delicious bread!
Makes 1 Focaccia, in a 34x24cm tray
- 280g strong bread flour
- 5g instant dried yeast
- 5g salt
- 1 Tbs dried basil
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 150 ml water
- About 12 black olives, sliced
- 3 sundried tomatoes (rehydrated), chopped.
- More basil, for sprinkling
- More olive oil, to drizzle
1. In a bowl, combine bread flour, yeast, salt, basil and olive oil.
2. Add the water in, holding back some, and combine to form a loose dough.
3. At this point, if the dough is too dry, add the remaining water. Knead to combine.
4. Knead for 10-15 minutes till the dough is smooth and stretchy.
5. Drizzle olive oil in a bowl, and place the dough in, moving it around to coat it with oil.
6. Cover with a damp tea towel/clingwrap/shower cap and let it proof for 1 hour.
7. After an hour, turn the dough out onto an oiled (more olive oil!) baking tray (about 34x24cm).
8. Preheat the oven to 220°C
9. Using your fingers, stretch out the dough to roughly fill the tray, making sure not to punch out too much air in the dough. The dough should be about 2cm thick.
10. Let the dough relax for 5 minutes, and proceed to use your fingers to make deep indentations on the surface of the bread.
11. Press in the sundried tomatoes and olives, making sure to push them quite firmly in.
12. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with more olive oil.
13. Bake for 12 minutes, before rotating the tray and baking for a further 10 minutes until the focaccia is evenly golden brown. Baking times do depend on the individual oven so do watch out to make sure it doesn’t burn!
14. Let the focaccia cool completely in the tray to soak up the oil before cutting and serving!
The flavour possibilities are endless with focaccia!