The last time I had focaccia was when Rich and I were in Italy, last year, and it was made by an Italian Mama outside a trulli on a Puglian hillside. The first thing that struck me about it was how wet her dough was; it was basically like a cake batter! It was cooked in a traditional pizza oven and was amazing. The sort of bread that you can’t (and don’t) want to stop eating.Suffice it to say, I didn’t really fancy making it.
Then, when I was watching the BBC’s “Great British Bake-Off” one of their technical challenges was to make focaccia. For anyone that has not seen the TV genius that is GBBO, this is when the contestants are given the outline of a recipe and they need to use their knowledge to fill in the gaps. It was amazing how many people didn’t add all of the water as they thought it was already wet enough. But to me, even those that did use all of the water didn’t have a wet enough dough. After watching it on the telly I decided that I should make focaccia and see what all of the fuss was about – so here is my recipe!
- 1 tbsp Dried Active Yeast
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil – Extra Virgin please…
- 400ml Hand-Hot Water
- 1 tsp Sugar (or honey)
- 500g Strong White Bread Flour
- 2 tsp Salt
- Addition Olive Oil
- Sea Salt (as always I use Maldons)
- With the yeast that I use you need to bring it back to life by warming it up and giving it some food. Therefore in a bowl add the water, sugar and yeast. Give it a stir and then leave it in a warm place to “wake-up” for about 15 minutes. Once there are bubbles over the surface you are ready for the next bit.
- Weigh out the flour and then mix in the salt in a large bowl. Give the yeast mixture a stir and add to the flour with the olive oil; mix everything thoroughly.
- Then you need to kind-of kneed the dough/batter which is easiest to do in the bowl using the sides to draw the mixture in.
- After about 10 minutes of this you will notice that the batter has changed consistency and feels silkiey – although it will never form one of those satisfying balls that normal bread turns into.
- Leave the mix in the bowl covered in a tea-towel or oiled cling film in a warm place for about an hour until it has doubled in size.
- Knock the dough back and kneed for about five minutes on a thoroughly oiled surface – make sure that your hands are also oiled.
- Shape the mix into a well oiled roasting tin. I used my large shallow one which is about 12 inches by 20.
- Leave in a warm place to prove for about another hour.
- After this time poke at the dough with your fingers to make the characteristic dimples, drizzle with yet more oil and sprinkle with salt.
- Put it into an oven at GM 7 for about 20 minutes, until it is golden brown.
- Serve with a tomato salad and east as soon as possible
Use a really good olive oil for this and you won’t be disappointed the flavour really comes through.
Add a sprinkling of chilli or herbs
Preparation time: 3 hour(s)
Cooking time: 20 minute(s)
Diet type: Vegetarian
Number of servings (yield): 8
Culinary tradition: Italian