After visiting Capri, Emilia-Romagna & San Marino, and Sicily, we’re traveling to yet another region in Italy. It’s time to take a trip to Liguria, in the northwestern part of the boot, neighbouring France. Supposedly, the name derives from the Latin word for hearth or place of baking: focus. Which seems like a probable reason to name your bread focaccia, to be honest.Focaccia is a wonderful Italian flatbread, with a thick yet springy texture and an infusion of herbs and oil. Most commonly used herb is rosemary, which is a perfect pair with sea salt. In this recipe, the rosemary is not only on top of the bread, but also incorporated in the dough. Yeah, I know, yum.The dough of the bread is similar to that of a pizza. The big difference between the two, is the use of a leavening agent (yeast). Pizza dough requires very little, to make sure that the base stays thin. Focaccia dough however, has got to rise. For the same reason, a focaccia can soak up a lot more olive oil than a pizza, which would probably drown when treated with the same amount of oil.
Tip: Don’t let the yeast get in direct contact with salt, as this will negatively affect the rising of the dough.The focaccia dough can be quite dry, which is why you create holes in the bread before baking. These holes are filled up with olive oil, and seep through the bread when in the oven, which leaves you with delicious bites filled with the natural taste of the oil, the crispy sea salt, the fresh rosemary, the steel-likearoma of the olives and a lovely bread flavour. In short, just make it and you won’t be sorry. Don’t get scared off by the recipe, I assure you that it is not a difficult recipe to make, even if it is your first time baking your own bread! Like all recipes involving yeast, be patient with the dough, give it time to rest and rise. Basically, it’s a highly relaxing recipe, especially the kneading part. Let your mind drift away and enjoy the serenity.
Focaccia with Sea Salt, Rosemary, and Olives
- 1 tbsp dried yeast
- 4 tbsp warm water
- 425 grams (15 oz) white bread flour
- 2 tsp salt
- leaves of 5 rosemary sprigs (plus extra for decoration)
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 240 ml (8 fl oz) lukewarm water
- Sea salt flakes
- Optional: Pitted olives
Used kitchen appliances
- Baking tray
- 2 mixing bowls
- Small bowl
- 1 damp tea towel
- 1 dry tea towel
- Wire rack
- Place the tablespoons of warm water in the small bowl and sprinkle over the yeast. Leave to sit for 5 minutes, stirring once at the end so the yeast has dissolved.
- Chop the rosemary leaves. Grease a mixing bowl with some olive oil.
- In the mixing bowl, mix the flour and salt. Make a well in the middle.
- In the well, place the rosemary,the oil, the yeast mixture, some freshly ground pepper and the lukewarm water.
- Place your hands in the well and gradually draw in the flour until all ingredients are combined into a sticky dough.
- Lightly flour your working space, and start kneading the dough with floured hands for about 7 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to the oiled mixing bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled.
- Transfer the dough back to the floured surface and knock it back. Cover with the dry tea towel and leave for about 5 minutes. Grease the baking tray with some oil.
- Place the dough on the tray and evenly flatten it out over the surface. Cover with a dry tea towel and leave for another 40 minutes.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200C or 400F. If you’d like you could sprinkle over some extra rosemary leaves and add the olives on top.
- Poke holes in the dough with your fingers, and fill them with olive oil. Scatter over some sea salt flakes.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
The focaccia can be served warm or cold. You can easily reheat it in the oven. Just slightly damp it with water and place in the oven on 200C (400F) for about 5 minutes.