The perfect focaccia
In this recipe, we take you through the steps to creating the delicious, dimpled Italian bread, focaccia. It is important to note that this recipe calls for dried active yeast, but fresh yeast is suitable. Simply double the weight and dissolve in some of the lukewarm water before use. Focaccia is a high hydration dough and, therefore much stickier than bread or pizza dough. Lightly wetting or oiling hands makes it easier to handle.
360g 184335 Alfina's Sovrano Gold Italian flour (or any high protein flour)
5g dried active yeast
5g cooking salt
5g 65033 Caterers' Choice caster sugar
265ml lukewarm water
10ml 59060 Alfina's extra virgin olive oil + extra for topping
164146 Cornish natural sea salt flakes, for topping
Fresh rosemary, for topping
Prepare your ingredients and equipment. You will need an oiled 30cm x 20cm baking tray.
Sift the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar into the bowl. Add the water and mix using a spoon to form a rough, wet dough. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Mix again.
Add the 10ml olive oil. Mix well. (Oil is a shortening. If you add it with the other ingredients you will affect the formation of gluten). When long strands form in the dough, move it to a lightly floured surface and knead using your fingertips until it comes clean from the bench.
Tuck the dough into a ball using fingertips. Place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic film. Place in a warm place out of drafts. A temperature range of 20-25°C is perfect. If it feels pleasantly warm to you, it will be perfect for the yeast to thrive. Allow to ferment for 1-2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 220°C. The dough will be very sticky, so lightly grease your hands with a little oil. Press the dough evenly to the edge of the pan. Use your fingertips to finish the process. The marks left by your fingers will become the dimples in the focaccia.
Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with flaked sea salt and rosemary leaves. Place the tray in the centre shelf of the oven, reduce the temperature to 210°C and bake for 20 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and the base sounds hollow when rapped with your knuckles. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm.
Tip: Other delicious toppings for focaccia could be some pitted green olives stuffed with feta, oregano and thyme, sage, and smoked salt, even green grapes. Focaccia is best served fresh the day it was made.