An Italian flatbread made from yeasted dough, the basic focaccia is made by rolling the dough into a flat rectangular shape and dimpling with fingermarks. It is then drizzled with oil and sprinkled with salt. Other versions may use toppings such as olives, onions or tomatoes. Originally, the bread was cooked over an open fire, which provided the inspiration for its name, derived from the Latin, focus, meaning ‘fireplace’.

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Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 400 g (14 oz/ cups) white strong flour
  • 1 tablespoon full-cream milk powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1–2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1–2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

Topping Suggestions

  • black olives
  • rosemary sprigs or leaves
  • pine nuts
  • dried oregano

Method

  1. Lightly grease an 18 × 28 cm (7 × 11¼ inch) baking tin. Put the yeast, sugar and 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) warm water in a small bowl and stir well. Leave in a draught-free place for 10 minutes, or until bubbles appear on the surface. The mixture should be frothy and slightly increased in volume. Add the oil.
  2. Sift 375 g (13 oz/3 cups) of the flour, the milk powder and ½ teaspoon salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is well combined. Add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough, and then turn onto a lightly floured surface.
  3. Knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and brush the surface with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a draught-free place for 1 hour, or until well risen. Punch down the dough, then knead for 1 minute.
  4. Roll into a rectangle, 18 × 28 cm (7 × 11¼ inches) and place in the prepared tin. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 20 minutes. Using your fingertips or the handle of a wooden spoon, form indents 1 cm (½ inch) deep all over the dough at regular intervals. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes, or until the dough is well risen. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
  5. Brush the combined olive oil and garlic over the surface of the dough. Choose your topping and scatter over the top. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Cut into large squares and serve warm.

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