Olive Oil Focaccia

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Cuts up into

    10–12 pieces

Appears in

Apples for Jam

Apples for Jam

By Tessa Kiros

Published 2010

  • About

This is nice left to rise up high so that it is soft and can be split for filling sandwiches. A couple of squares of this filled with thinly sliced ham or salami, bresaola, chopped egg and cress, tomato and ricotta or robiola, mozzarella or roasted tomato and pesto makes a good lunch or emergency snack. The bread can also be frozen in bags in small portions and pulled out to thaw quickly. This is lovely also with some fresh herbs such as rosemary strewn across the top before baking. If you use rosemary, strip the leaves off a couple of stalks and chop them up very finely (as I think the long needles might not be appreciated by the kids). The amount of water and flour you need may vary slightly but the dough should be sticky and difficult to knead.

Ingredients

  • 435 ml(15¼ fl oz/ cups) warm (comfortable to your fingers) water
  • 20 g(¾ oz) fresh yeast, crumbled, or 10 g(¼ oz) active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 600 g(1 lb 5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour

Method

Put the water, yeast, honey, half the olive oil and 3 fistfuls of the flour in a bowl. Mix with electric beaters until smooth. Cover and leave for 20–30 minutes until it all froths up and looks foamy on the top. Mix in the rest of the flour and teaspoons of salt. Now, using a dough hook, mix for 4–5 minutes so that it is well incorporated. If you don’t have a dough hook, then mix it with your hands in the bowl, just slapping it from one side to the other, as it will be too soft to knead. Cover the bowl with a couple of cloths and leave it in a warm and draught-free place for about 1½ hours, or until it has puffed up well.

Lightly oil a 28 × 38 × 4 cm(11 × 15 × 1½ inch) baking tray. Punch down the dough to flatten it. Spread the dough out gently into the tray, right out to the edges. If it won’t stretch easily, leave it to relax for another 5 minutes and then gently stretch it out, starting from the centre. Make sure the dough doesn’t break anywhere and that it is spread more or less evenly. Put in a warm draught-free place. So the dough doesn’t stick to the cloth, arrange four glasses around the tray and drape a couple of tea towels or a towel over them like a tent to completely cover the tray. Leave for about 45 minutes until the dough puffs up.

Meanwhile, turn your oven to its highest temperature. In a small bowl, mix the remaining oil with 125 ml(4 fl oz/½ cup) of hot water and 1 teaspoon of salt and stir until the salt dissolves. Make some dimples on the top of the bread with your fingertips and then brush well with the saltwater mixture.

Put in the oven and bake for around 20–30 minutes (depending on the heat of your oven) until the bread is golden, a bit crusty here and there and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and cool for a bit before cutting into pieces. This is best warm but can also be served at room temperature, or reheated.