Recently someone asked me how to make Focaccia & I directed them to my blog saying that I had posted the recipe. But after searching I realized that I had NO such recipe posted yet. I mean.....REALLY? I've been making this recipe nearly as long as I've been making pancakes! Great balls of steaming ooger! The time to post is now. (though technically this draft has been sitting on my dashboard for months)
Now, If I may let you in on a little secret:
You have permission to be a mediocre cook but if you can bake a loaf of bread you'll pass as a kitchen genius.
Try it, next big meal take a little time to try out some bread and you'll have guests grabbing hold of your ankles refusing to leave. How do I know this? I am yet trying to shake off ankle holders now. (they are roughly between the ages of 5-1)
Honestly, people. This bread was one of the first breads I tried making & believe me, there's nothing like being hailed a genius when the only things you can actually make in the kitchen is scrambled eggs & focaccia. Observe:
Here I am posing as an impostor cook, looking smug, & mismatched. It's pretty obvious the only thing I've actually accomplished in the kitchen is drink several beers, make bread & successfully convince people I can cook. I admit I even pulled this on my boyfriend and he is yet still my boyfriend.
So please, pretend that you're not paranoid of yeast & get cracking: (Hint, the secret to a good focaccia is in the triple raising)
5 c of bread flour or all purpose flour (use 1/2 extra tsp of salt if using all purpose flour)
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
2/3 c olive oil (You only need 3-4 tbsp for the actual dough, rest is for topping)
2 c warm water (40 c) (Set aside 1/4 of the water for yeast)
Dissolve sugar in warm water in a bowl sprinkle yeast on top & leave undisturbed for 10 min. Sift flour, salt together in large bowl. Make a well in the center pour yeast/water in & mix till blended (there will be lumps & crumbliness) then make another well & add olive oil & remaining 1 3/4 c warm water. Mix with wooden spoon till it comes together then turn out onto floured surface & knead for 10 min. (If you have a stand mixer you can knead for 6-8 min)
The dough should be soft but not too soft to handle. Add more flour as needed. Turn the dough into a oiled large bowl & set in the oven or warm place (covered with towel) for 1 1/2 hrs till it's doubled in size.
Lightly oil two baking trays, or of you like use two 9" cake pans (this will give you a much fluffier, thicker focaccia), punch dough down shape into two balls roll or press into the pans, cover the pans with towels & let it rise again for 30 min. Preheat oven for 200c (400f)
Using your fingertips press dimples all over the dough's surface. Drizzle the remaining oil over the bread. Sprinkle generously with seasalt.
The most traditional topping is rosemary sprigs. But there are heaps of toppings that you can choose from & or improvise with some ideas are:
sliced red onion
coarsely ground walnuts or pecans
black olives halved
cherry tomato halves
sprinkling dried basil
fresh basil leaves
brown sugar (about 1 tsp per loaf)
bits of anchovies
Let the dough sit again for another 30 min then bake for 20-25 min till golden brown. And that's about it. Cut & serve warm.
I try not to let my foccacia get too "busy" with toppings. Usually pick 2 or 3, max, besides the olive oil. Of course if you add a pizza sauce & cheese before the toppings then "BAM" the evolution of pizza.
Also if you have a bread maker you can set it to "dough" and put the ingr. in according to the maker's instructions till the first rising
Well, that's it & as you can see I have no actual picture of the finished product & that is because no matter how much I make there is almost no left overs at all. EVER! Sneaky guests have been observed sneaking back into the kitchen at midnight with their head in the fridge eating left over focaccia straight out of a ziplock bag. (yeah, you didn't think I knew it was you, didja?)
Afterthought about bread sticks:
PS. If you wanna make bread sticks divide the dough after the first rising into walnut sized balls & roll out to about 10 in sticks. Leave to rise for 30 min, then brush with olive oil & sprinkle with whatever topping you like. (caraway, dried basil, oregano, sesame seeds, poppy seeds etc..) & bake for 15-20 min till golden.
PPS. A simpler option to toppings on bread sticks is to add seasoning to the dough before kneading.