There is nothing quite like a lovely herb flavoured bread. One of my favourites is Focaccia, which is a wonderfully flavoursome bread that can easily cope with any number of different toppings. I have made it in the past with cherry tomatoes and basil. But olives, cheese and any number of combinations of herbs really make this bred so versatile.
It is often just cut into squares or fingers for dipping in olive oil with herbs, garlic etc in. It is also ideal for soups. I personally quite like to take large square and cut that horizontally into two pieces so I can make sandwich with it. The bread is best eaten immediately, but it can be stored for a couple of days and then briefly reheated before eating. It is also suitable for freezing, in which case it just needs to be defrosted and then heated before serving.
The recipe does take some time, since the dough needs to proof twice. But that time is well worth taking since Focaccia is such a lovely bread.
I made a large one 16.5 inches by 12 inches(42 cm x 30cm). That is a larger pan than many people have but the dough can be divided to make two smaller breads. Equally it can be divided to make free form versions.
Although I added rosemary, thyme, garlic powder and grated parmesan that is only my preference. Any number of other things work very well on the top of the loaf. Cherry tomatoes and olives are particularly good, since dimples are made in the dough before baking and those things can be pushed into some dimples.
My focaccia baked very well and tasted fantastic, so I was very pleased with how it turned out.
for the dough:
- 600g(4 cups) bread flour(or plain flour will work)
- 20g(1 1/2 tbsp) sugar
- 150ml (1/2 cup + 2 tbps) milk at room temperature
- 290l(1 cup + 3tbsp) water at room temperature
- 65ml(1/4 cup + 1 tsp) olive oil
- 15g (3 tsp) salt
- 7g (1 packet) instant yeast
For the topping
- 45ml (3 tbsp) olive oil
- Rosemary thyme, garlic powder, grated parmesan – to personal taste
- Place the flour, sugar and yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix briefly with the paddle attachment.
- Add the water, milk and oil and mix until everything is pulled together into a shaggy dough.
- Change the paddle for the dough hook and knead on medium speed for 15 minutes, adding in the salt once the machine has started to knead.
- After 15 minutes the dough will still be very tacky, and should be tipped out onto a floured work surface.
- Fold the dough over on itself about 4 times and then place into a lightly oiled bowl.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to proof in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Brush oil all over the surface of a large baking tray, with raised edges(42cm x30). If necessary use 2 pans.
- Tip the dough into the pan and with well oiled hands push the dough flat until it covers the entire surface of the pan. If the dough is springing back and making it difficult to push into the corners simply cover it and allow it to rest for about 5 minutes, then try again.
- Cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow to proof again, in warm place, for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
- Uncover the dough and oil your hands.
- Press your fingers all over the dough, making dimples across the surface.
- Drizzle olive oil over the top and then sprinkle the rosemary, thyme, garlic and parmesan over the top, as much or as little as you like.
- Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is a nice golden brown. Keep an eye on the focaccia as it bakes so that it doesn’t brown too much.
- Remove from the oven and immediately transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.