This flat Italian yeast bread is the star of the bread show as far as I’m concerned. It is soft and chewy at the same time, cradling olive oil into it’s dimples and ever ready to soak up whatever flavours are added to it. Traditionally a focaccia has rosemary, olive oil and salt as a topping but this need not be so. It is absolutely delicious with tiny, sun-ripened tomatoes, herbs, pesto, caramelised onion, roasted veg, cheese and olives and if you have a sweet tooth, chocolate, fruits and nuts.
I like to make what I call a filled focaccia: two rounds of bread, stacked upon each other, with the centre filled to capacity with whatever filling I have around on that particular day. Apart from being perfect picnic food this makes a wonderful meal with a salad or two added on the side.
Basic focaccia dough:
10g dry yeast
340ml lukewarm water
20ml olive oil
Pour the lukewarm water into a jug and sprinkle the yeast on top.
Add the sugar, salt and olive and give the mixture a really good stir.
Add your flour to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
Turn the machine onto low speed and add the yeast mixture while the engine is running.
Once the mixture comes together as a dough, turn the machine onto medium speed and knead for 4 minutes, until you have a smooth and elastic dough.
Lightly oil a mixing bowl and place the dough into it. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to prove for an hour or until almost doubled in size.
Preheat your oven to 180℃.
Knock the dough back by kneading it by hand for 2 minutes.
Divide the dough in to equal pieces and roll each piece into a circle shape with a rolling pin.
Push the tips of your fingers into the dough circles so that it forms indents or dimples.
Drizzle olive oil over the discs of dough and scatter with coarse salt and rosemary.
This is the time to add whatever filling you want to the one disc that will make out the bottom part of your filled focaccia.
Place one disc on top of the other.
Leave to prove until puffy.