Focaccia Bread Recipe
PHOTO: Paola Thomas
a taste of italy
RECIPE AND PHOTOS BY PAOLA THOMAS OF MIRROR, MIRROR
This isn’t your ordinary loaf of bread. There are bursts of flavor hiding in each of those gorgeous dimples and pockets.
Lace your loaf with oils, herbs or small vegetables like olives or cherry tomatoes for. Or you could do all three — the more the merrier, right?
You can use it as a base for a pizza or even as sandwich bread. In our house, it never lasts long enough for us to try.
- 1 kg (2 lb) plain or all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 25 g (1 oz) dried yeast (1 sachet)
- about 500 ml (2¼ cups) warm water
- 4 Tbsp good olive oil, plus additional for oiling the baking sheet and brushing bread
- coarse sel gris, rosemary, and sage
- thinly sliced red onions or cherry tomatoes
- Put the flour in a big bowl and make a well in the center.
- Activate the yeast according to the packet instructions and add it to the flour (either hydrate it in some of water or just stir it into the flour). Add the salt and olive oil.
- Then add enough warm water to make a workable but slightly sticky dough. I ended up adding a little more water this time round.
- Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes until it is soft and elastic.
- When it’s ready, cover the dough with oil and leave it in a clean bowl in a warm place until it has at least doubled in bulk. You could leave it in the fridge overnight if necessary.
- After the initial rise, punch the dough down and divide into two.
- Shape each portion into a rectangle and place on an oiled baking sheet (I find 13’ by 9’ pans perfect for this).
- Use your fingers to press and push the dough out until it fits the pans. It should end up being about 1 inch thick and you should be able to see the indentations from your fingers in the dough. They are what catches the oil and flavourings, so push firmly.
- Brush with oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and herbs, or add thinly sliced red onions, or halved cherry tomatoes. Let the dough rise again until it’s puffy all over and about two inches thick.
- Set your oven to the highest setting and set a cast iron pan or similar in the bottom.
- Put the bread in the oven, and simultaneously add a cup or two of water to the hot pan in the bottom to create steam. Shut the oven door quickly and don’t open it for about 15 minutes. Your bread should be golden brown and ready after about 20 minutes.
- When ready, tip it from the pans, brush it again with oil and serve warm.