This family favourite bread is a delicious accompaniment to your Italian dishes, or alone with an olive oil or balsamic dip. This simple bread recipe can be adjusted to your taste, and the olives and rosemary could be substituted for sundried tomatoes, fresh cherry tomatoes or peppers and any fresh herbs you have to hand! A brilliant recipe to experiment with flavours and have fun with.
This recipe makes 2x 6 inch loaves of focaccia or one 12 inch loaf. Preparation time: 1 hour 30 minutes. Cooking time: 20-25 minutes.
500g strong white flour (plus extra for dusting)
2tsp fine salt
12g fast action yeast
220ml warm water
8tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
30g pitted black olives, halved (optional)
3 large sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped (optional)
1 egg (beaten)
coarse rock salt
Using a mixing bowl, combine the flour, fine salt, olive oil and most of the rosemary (leave some for sprinkling later).
In a separate bowl or jug, add the yeast to the warm water and stir until completely dissolved.
Adding a little at a time, gradually add the yeast mixture to your mixing bowl - mix this through using your hands with fingers spread to help separate any lumps as you go (this is the fun part - expect the mixture to get stickier as you add more of the wet to the dry ingredients!)
Once all of the ingredients are combined, turn out your dough onto a clean floured surface. Aggressively knead your dough for 10 minutes (call this your daily workout!)
Drizzle a little olive oil into a clean bowl and rub it around the sides ensuring the inside of the bowl is well oiled. Place your dough into this bowl and cover with a glass pan lid (if you have one that fits) or cling film. Place it somewhere warm to prove for one hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Pre-heat your oven to 200°C. Using a clean, floured surface, turn your dough out of the bowl.
Gently begin turning and lightly kneading your dough to "knock it back" to it's original size. If making 2 smaller loaves, divide your dough into 2 equal peices.
Oil your baking tray (or 2 trays if making 2 loaves) ready for baking. Place your dough on the tray and using your hands, spread and shape your dough until it evenly covers the tray (you should be aiming to have the dough around 1 inch thick).
Holding your hand in a "claw-like" position (fingers spread), press onto the top of your dough multiple times to create a dimple texture across the entire surface.
Scatter olives into a few of the dimples on top and brush egg wash onto the dough before sprinkling over the remaining rosemary and coarse sea salt.
Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Top Tip: Drizzle a little olive oil onto your focaccia while still warm and leave to soak through before serving. This gives your bread a little extra flavour!