I was asked for my focaccia recipe last week.
It made me realise that I didn’t really have one. I make this up as I go along. Feeling the dough to see if it’s soft enough, adding oil until the puddles look sufficiently deep, squishing the toppings in a random manner until the balance of bread to colourful bits looks about right.
So I made it again and tried to write down what I did.
To be honest though, this one’s mostly about intuition. It doesn’t really matter too much how you go about it…as long as you do.
At the moment we have LOTS of rosemary. I planted it right across the front of the house a few years ago and it’s deliriously happy, growing, flowering and getting used in the kitchen. So we made a rosemary oil to go into our focaccia, by grinding up some salt, oil and rosemary leaves.
The focaccia is made to George’s exacting requirements, having had some in a local café last week he decided ours was much nicer, so we made this when we got home.
The black olives, tomatoes and mozzarella balls are his toppings of choice. Ed prefers a no-cheese version which is especially good turned into crispy breads if it doesn’t get used up straight away. He slices the bread thinly, then sprinkles with a little garlic oil and salt and dries it out in a warm oven. They make THE best tasty snacks to have with a drink.
If you decide to make this, do enjoy the stabby-dough bit. It’s immensely satisfying.
- 300g Strong Bread Flour
- 100g Plain Flour
- 1 sachet of Quick Action Yeast (7g)
- 1 tsp Table Salt
- Virgin Olive Oil
- Lukewarm water (about 250ml/½ pint)
- Mini Mozzarella Balls
- Sunblush/Semi Dried Tomatoes
- Fresh Rosemary or other fresh herbs
- Maldon Sea Salt Crystals
With a pestle and mortar grind up a big bunch of herbs with a tablespoon of Maldon salt and a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. When it’s good and green add some more oil to loosen it, then use this to top your focaccia.
Don’t worry if some of the ground up leaves go into this mix, it’s all good.
This is easiest to make in a stand mixer with a dough hook if you have one.
Put the flours, yeast and salt into the mixer bowl and stir. Add a most of the warm water, pour in 3-4 Tbsps of olive oil.
Let this mix together for a minute then add more water if needed to allow it to come together as a soft dough.
Knead on low-speed with a dough hook, or by hand for 10 minutes.
Scoop out the dough, flour the bowl a little, then place it back in and cover with cling film and allow to prove for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.
Oil the base and sides of a 1-2″ deep oven proof square/oblong pan, I use a Silverwood 8″ x 10″ roasting dish.
Release the dough from the edges of the bowl with a scraper then lift it out, stretch it to roughly the size of the pan and drop it in. Cover with cling film and allow it to rise for another half an hour…or more.
Prod plenty of holes in the pouffy dough with your fingers, pushing right down to the bottom of the tray.
Pour 2-3 tbsps of olive or herby oil over the top – you want to end up with lots of little oily puddles.
Squish some rosemary tips, olives, mozzarella balls and tomatoes (and anything else you fancy) into the holes. Stab a few more holes in for good measure – this means you will get oily…sorry.
Allow this to sit for 15-20 minutes while you heat up your oven to 190ºc.
Sprinkle with a good amount of salt crystals.
Bake for around 20 minutes until deep golden, spinning the tray around halfway through to make sure it cooks evenly.
When it comes out of the oven drizzle all over with a little more oil whilst it’s still hot.
Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes, release any cheese that has stuck to the edge with a spatula and turn out onto a cooling rack to cool before slicing.