Focaccia is a flatbread-style bread, often used as antipasto, as a side, or simply as a tasty snack. It originates from Italy (more specifically, the coastal region of Liguria; although, many believed is may have come from the Etruscans). Focaccia, or panis focacius as the bread was called in Ancient Rome, was baked on the hearth. The word focaccia is therefore believed to derive from the Latin word focus, meaning “hearth” or “place for baking”.
Many people are cautious about baking focaccia as it has been given a notorious reputation for being a particularly wet dough. However, whilst focaccia dough is inherently wetter than a standard bread dough, there really is nothing to be worried about. Instead of kneading the dough as you would a traditional loaf, you simply use a scoop and fold technique. This will ensure you build up gluten and air pockets without getting yourself covered in dough.
Focaccia can be flavoured in any number of ways. Rosemary is a classic flavouring; however, I also like to use olives, jalapeños, sun-dried tomatoes, or anything else I have in the cupboard at the time. Herbs are a great way to change up the flavour too. Rosemary may be traditional, but thyme, oregano, and basil are all great for this recipe.
- 500 g strong white bread flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 14 g instant yeast (two sachets)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 400 ml cold water
- Extra olive oil for drizzling
- Place the flour into a large bowl, adding the salt and yeast in next (being careful to ensure the two don’t touch at this stage or the salt may kill the yeast).
- Make a well in the dry ingredients then add the olive oil and water. I tend to start with 350ml of water and see whether it needs the rest but, if you’re making this recipe for the first time, I suggest using all the water. (It’s better for the dough to be a bit too wet than too dry.)
- Gently stir the dough in the bowl with your hand to form a dough. Knead for around 5 minutes before tipping out onto an oiled surface (yes, oiled not floured) and kneading using a ‘scoop and fold’ technique for a further 10 minutes.
- Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size. I actually prefer to place the dough in a large, square tupperware tub as the square tub will help with shaping the final bread, but this is personal preference.
- Line a large baking sheets with baking parchment. Tip the dough out onto the baking sheet and flatten it out, pushing to the corners.
- Leave the dough to prove for an hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C.
- Next, poke holes into the proved dough using your four fingers before drizzling the bread with oil, sprinkle with fine sea salt (and any other flavourings or herbs), and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
- Once baked, remove from the oven and drizzle with more oil and any extras such as fresh basil, roast vegetables, or cheese. Serve hot or cold.