Updated: Mar 22
Making bread can be a real labour of love. The sensory process of getting your hands dirty and working the dough is reason enough to do it, but the real result comes from the smell, taste, texture and crunch of something that started out as flour, water and yeast.
Focaccia is probably one of the most forgiving breads, so fear not new bakers. The beauty of a focaccia is it doesn't require a bulk fermentation period and can be proofed and ready to go in less than 5 hours.
This recipe has been adapted from a few I've tried over the years. The most notable being Jamie Oliver's Focaccia, which is very straight forward and Bon Appetite, which requires a long ferment, but no kneading.
What flour do I use?
This is a contentious issue when baking bread. Most recipes will recommend you use a 00 flour. This flour has a stronger protein content, which will lead to a fluffier bread BUT if you have good active yeast you shouldn't need this for your focaccia. I normally just use plain flour and it works a treat.
What do I bake my focaccia in?
This depends on the shape you are going for. This recipe is enough to fill a 13 x 9 inch baking tray. I prefer baking focaccia in a deeper dish as it helps with the overall height of the final product.
I would recommend something similar to this enamel baking dish - https://amzn.to/2PHHo8z
Any baking dish you use for roasting in your oven will do. Just make sure it is deep enough.
You will need
5 cups all purpose flour
2 cups luke warm water
1 sachet of active dry yeast (7g)
2 teaspoons of honey
3 teaspoons of salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil (plus more for feeding post bake)
6 garlic cloves, pealed and smashed with the flat side of a knife
1 bunch of sage leaves
a few sprigs of rosemary
Our very first step is to make sure our yeast is alive and ready to ferment. Combine the yeast with the water and honey in a jug. Mix everything together and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Once finished we want to see little air bubbles on the surface. This will show us that the yeast is active.
Whilst the yeast is activating, measure out your flour and add it to a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle in salt and mix together.
After 5 minutes, add the wet yeast mixture to the flour and combine everything together into a shaggy dough. I tend to use my hands for this process. They will get messy but that is all part of the fun. If you want to avoid getting flour hands, cover them in a little bit of olive oil.
Once all of the dry flour has been incorporated into the dough drizzle in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cover the outside of the dough and the side of the bowl with the oil. Then cover the bowl with cling wrap, a silicone lid or hot tip, use a shower cap (this is perfect because you can rinse it out and use over and over. This will help create a mini micro climate that will let the dough rise nicely.
Leave the dough to proof in a warm area for about 2 hours OR until your dough has doubled in size. Mark the outside of your bowl to keep track or how it is going.
Once your dough has doubled in size it is ready to be moved into it's baking tray.
To prepare the tray, use either oil or butter as a non stick agent. Sprinkle in some flour to help stop the focaccia from sticking. Transfer the dough from the bowl to the tray and leave in the centre of the tray. There is no need to stretch it out to the edges, it will do this itself during the next proof. Cover with a damp tea towel or baking tray and leave to rise for 45mins to 1 hour.
Ok now we are getting close to baking time! After the dough has spread out to the sides of the tray it is time to get serious. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celcius.
Place sage leaves, rosemary and garlic into a small bowl. Drizzle with some olive oil and make sure everything has an even coat. Using your hands start pressing these different herbs into the dough. the idea is to spread them all around (pictured below). You want to push them into the inflated dough, as if they are little pockets of flavour. Once all the herbs are in, press your fingers into the bread as if you are playing an imaginary piano. This will create the iconic focaccia dimples. Sprinkle a little bit of salt over the top and cover once more for 30 mins.
After 30 mins, place the focaccia in the oven. Be careful not to bash it about too much as it may cause the dough to deflate slightly.
Bake for about 20 - 30 minutes. It should be golden brown and crisp on top when finished.
Once you take it out of the oven, 'feed' the bread with another drizzle of olive oil. Allow it to sit for 20 mins before cutting into it!
My Kitchen Essentials
Kitchen Aid Food Processor - https://amzn.to/2unzfOQ
Vitamix Blender - https://amzn.to/39PSLny
Cast iron skillet - https://amzn.to/2QReO4u
Japanese Chefs Knife - https://amzn.to/37J1sxX
Baking Sheet Tray - https://amzn.to/37Ocq5A
Silicon Baking Mat - https://amzn.to/39MPCVt
Glass Storage Containers - https://amzn.to/2QVWUgX
Nutri Ninja IQ blender - https://amzn.to/2WwG38O