I have vivid memories of my first encounters with focaccia. It appeared in British supermarkets in the late 1990s, oozing delicious olive oil and usually stuffed with other very trendy things, like sun-dried tomatoes and black olives. These days, I realize those dry, doughy versions were nothing more than pale imitations of this Ligurian classic, best enjoyed fresh out of the oven.
- Mark Gatiss: ‘I’m really terrified we’re losing coffee forever’ | gatiss brand
- Luxury condrieu and other viogniers | Came
- Din Tai Fung, London WC2: ‘Here’s the problem with the hype’: restaurant review | Food
- How to eat: a BLT sandwich | sandwiches
- How to easily make mayonnaise with a hand mixer – recipe | sauces and sauces
Homework 25 minutes
Cook 25 minutes
brands 1 large loaf
375 g strong white bread flour
375g flour 00
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
7g fast actingng dry yeast
130 ml of extra virgin olive oilplus extra to grease
2 tablespoons coarse semolina or cornmeal (optional)
1 teaspoon salt flakes
1 Combine the dry elements
You can make this with just white bread flour, or with regular flour instead of type 00 (often sold as “pasta flour”), but I find the combination strikes the perfect balance between chewy crust and tender crumb. Whatever you choose, put the flours in a large bowl along with the salt and yeast, then mix to combine.
2 Add the liquids
Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in 100 ml of olive oil and 300 ml of lukewarm water.
Stir this into the dry ingredients, then add enough additional water (I used about 100ml) until you have a very soft, but not quite sticky dough; if you go too far, balance the balance with a little more flour.
3 Knead the dough until smooth and elastic.
This is easiest to do in a food mixer fitted with a dough hook, and will take about seven minutes on medium-low speed, but you can also do it by hand on a lightly oiled work surface, which should take about 10 to 12 minutes.
4 Let rise
Lightly grease a baking sheet and place the dough on it.
Let stand in a relatively warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size; this will probably take 60-90 minutes, but both yeast and kitchens differ, so keep an eye on size, rather than time.
5 Knock it back, then knead
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and remove the air. If you want to incorporate other ingredients, for example, diced sun-dried tomatoes, olives, cheese or herbs, now is the time to knead them.
Lightly dust baking sheet with grits, if using; although not required, it will give your focaccia a delicious crunch.
6 Oil, then leave to rise again
Return the dough to the middle of the baking sheet and use your fingers to press it almost, but not quite, into the edges of the sheet.
Brush with a little more olive oil and leave to rise in a place without drafts until it doubles in size again; it should be a bit faster this time.
7 Heat the oven
Once the second rise is finished, heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/425F/gas 8 and place a roasting pan in the bottom of the oven to warm up. Bring a kettle of water to a boil to pour into the pan when you put the bread in the oven (the resulting steam from underneath will give the focaccia a softer crust and more height).
8 Apply the icing and toppings
Whisk the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil with two tablespoons of water until well combined. Make deep dimples in the surface of the bread with your fingertips. Pour the oil and water evenly over the top and sprinkle all over with salt flakes (and dried herbs, if you like).
9 Bake and enjoy
Place the bread in the middle of the oven and quickly pour the hot water into the tin at the bottom before closing the door.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until nicely golden on top; check it regularly towards the end as it can burn easily. Focaccia is best enjoyed warm.
This recipe was edited on August 12, 2022, both to correct the amount of yeast in the ingredients (an earlier version called for 8g, which is not the standard packet size) and to clarify the type of yeast needed.