A compliment to fellow blogger Cecile about her bread, led to mentioning focaccia, the wonderful Italian flat bread. When asked for my recipe, I’ve realized that despite the fact I make it quite often, I haven’t yet posted a recipe for it. So, here it is!
There are many recipes for focaccia, but all versions contain a smaller amount of flour compared to pizza dough (a recipe for which you can find HERE), to help keep the dough soft and moist. So it is important not be tempted to add more flour than the recipe calls for. In the recipe here you’ll also see semolina in the dough. I highly urge you not to replace it with the same amount of flour, as it gives the dough a lovely added texture.
Another similarity we can find in all the variations is the use of olive oil, which is a key ingredient when it comes to flavor, and is brushed on top of the baked focaccia. I prefer to also add a generous amount of olive oil directly to the dough, and to coat it with olive oil while proofing it. On top of giving the focaccia a wonderful flavor, this gives the dough a soft and moist texture. Using high quality mild olive oil will give you the best results.
Besides the traditional brushing the dough with olive oil, other toppings can be added according to your taste and preferences.
On top of the two shown here, the list of other toppings I’ve used over the years is endless; from simple fresh rosemary sprigs, whole garlic cloves, cherry tomatoes and olives, to caramelized onions or peppers, grated cheeses, sliced cold cuts… you get the idea. Other flavorings, such as chopped sun dried tomatoes or herbs, can be kneaded directly into the dough.
As you can see, this is a quick and very versatile recipe. I’m sure you’ll enjoy making this wonderful bread and create your own version of it.
Makes: 3 about 10″x16″ (25cm X 40cm) each
Prep time: 10 minutes
Mixing and proofing time: 2-3 hours
Baking time: 20-25 minutes
For the starter:
1 cup flour
¼ oz (7 grams) dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 cups warm water
For the dough:
1 cup warm water
1 Tbs salt
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups flour
1 cup semolina
For proofing: ¼ cup olive oil
For brushing the dough: ¼ cup olive oil
Toppings: homemade pesto (see recipes HERE or HERE),olive oil mixed with crushed garlic, coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, or any other toppings you prefer.
1. In the mixer bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the starter. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in a warm place for 10-15 minutes, until the mixture foams and doubles its size.
2. Add 1 cup warm water, 1 Tbs salt and ¼ cup olive oil. Mix well and add the flour and semolina. Start kneading slowly, with the kneading hook, stopping and scraping the sides occasionally, until the dough forms and starts to pull off the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium-high and keep kneading for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and playable. Place on a workspace and knead into a ball.
3. Pour ¼ cup olive oil into a clean large bowl. Add the dough and roll it in the oil, to cover it from all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for about 2 hours, until the dough doubles in size.
4. Preheat the oven to 420F (215C). Line a baking sheet with baking paper and sprinkle it with semolina.
5. Punch down the dough, divide into 3 equal parts and knead each part into a ball. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before rolling.
6. Dust a workspace with a small amount of flour and roll the dough to the size of the pan (or keep it smaller, if you want a thicker focaccia). Using your finger tips, press dents all over the dough. Brush with olive oil and top with the suggested toppings, or any others according to your taste.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the focaccia is nice and golden. Brush or drizzle with more olive oil when taken out of the oven.