Your focaccia can be what you want it to be. Sometimes it is thinner and crisper, sometimes thicker and chewy in the centre. Sometimes I mix dried herbs or sliced garlic in the middle, other times I just scatter things on top. Roughly chopped rosemary, sea salt, sliced garlic, sage leaves, chopped black olives. Focaccia can have many forms, but it is always spectacular and can turn mundane protein, vegetables, salad or soup into a rustic feast. I have no space to waste, so I always make them rectangular in oven pans. This may irk the purist.
Note: you will end up with an empty flour bag, a yeast packet and a sheet of cling film. Please recycle these.
1 Kg white bread or cake flour – you can halve or third this
625 – 750ml of lukewarm water, depending on the hydration of your dry flower. I usually aim for 3:1 ratio flour to water.
1 packet dry yeast
10ml of salt
Glug of olive oil.
Method – I am doing two large focaccias with tasty bits inside as well as on top. You can leave the inside flavours out.
Pour the flour in a heap on your kneading counter. If you have one, keep your dough scraper handy.
Sprinkle over the yeast and roughly mix through.
Sprinkle over the salt and mix through. You don’t want the yeast and salt to sit in a layer.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and add some water. Mix inside the well with crabbed fingers until the water is no longer runny. Add and mix the rest of the water bit by bit until you have a course dough. Mix in the olive oil and keep rolling the dough until it forms a ball. If it is very dry, add little bits of water at a time, ditto flour if too wet. Keep in mind a slightly wet flour should come together without adding anything.
Knead until you have silky, soft dough that does not stick to the surface or your hands, and make recognisable bread strands when you stretch it out. About ten minutes.
Roll into a ball, place in a large bowl, coat with a couple of tablespoons oil and cover with cling film. Leave in a warmish place until doubled in size.
In the meantime prepare the inside flavours. Chop your garlic, olives or fresh herbs and set aside. Once the dough is ready, knock it down and divide into two pieces (depending on how many you are making). On a floured surface roll each piece into a rectangle. Scatter the herbs or garlic evenly, fold in half and half again and roll out to the desired size.
Place in an oiled pan leave to rise for about 20 minutes. Preheat your oven to about 200°C. Prepare the toppings in the meantime. After 20 minutes, poke deep five-finger holes in the dough, drizzle with oil and scatter your toppings. Bake for around 20 minutes until the bread starts to brown.
Best eaten still warm. I leave mine in the pan and slice with a pizza cutter.